It's Not Only About Efficiency. How About Focusing On Media Effectiveness?

At last week’s American Association of Advertising Agencies  (4As) Transformation Conference in Miami, leading themes that emerged included viewability, ad blocking, fraud and financial transparency—all issues that RTBlog has written about in recent weeks. You have to hand it to the 4As: No topic appeared off-limits, including the pervasive racism and sexism that’s endemic to the industry. Another topic that came up was the need to refocus on media effectiveness and media efficiency.

My MediaPost colleague Larissa Faw referred to the four themes that emerged as advertising’s Four Plagues. Considering we’re in the Passover season where there are 10 plagues, perhaps adland should consider itself lucky that it doesn’t have more scourges to deal with. Faw noted that some $8 billion a year is lost to ad fraud, while another $20 million, at least, is attributed to ad blocking.

The Media Rating Council (MRC) is battling so-called “ghost” impressions by developing processes to track ads similar to TV spots. Up to 60% of digital impressions are non-viewable, according to the head of the MRC, George Ivie. As Faw reported: "Viewability is just the beginning of an opportunity to see an ad. We still don't know how long the ad was up, the effectiveness of an ad, how long they viewed,” Ivie said.

The Trustworthy Accountability Group is trying to combat one of the plagues by fighting digital fraud in the supply chain. The group has created a program to effectively identify and filter out computer bots. It also developed a fraud threat list to collect known sources of traffic that criminals are operating. Information is tracked at both the company and campaign level, and intelligence is shared across the industry.

It’s not clear whether 4As attendees came away with strategies for overcoming the four plagues. The solutions aren’t that simple. The balancing act between achieving greater media efficiencies through tactics like programmatic media vs. media effectiveness is a tough one. Both must be considered against the backdrop of consumer experience regardless of screen or device.

John Montgomery, chairman for GroupM Connect in North America, told attendees that in order to get traction on viewability and fraud, each needs to be tackled as a separate issue. That goes for agency/client transparency as well.  

Stakeholders need to think differently about programmatic media buying and shift focus from efficiencies to media effectiveness. That would appear to be a sound course.

Perhaps Megan Pagliuca, CEO of Omnicom’s Accuen trading desk, put effectiveness into context the best: "Marketers have been pushing on efficiency. … The value programmatic brings is actually that you can cherry-pick or look at individual impressions, and that means you may pay a publisher more. So it should be more of a value exchange between the advertiser and publishers. As we evolve, we hope the pendulum is swinging back to effectiveness."

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