John Wanamaker famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”
That would have seemed like a reasonably pithy thing to say back in the early years of the 20th century.
Today, it would seem, that would be a stupendous success rate.
Perhaps you read that JP Morgan Chase, reacting to stories about advertising inadvertently showing up on hate sites or nasty YouTube videos, decided to limit its digital advertising to “just” 5,000 preapproved sites, down from 400,000.
The result: Kristin Lemkau, the bank’s CMO, told The New York Times there was virtually no change in the cost of the impressions it bought or its visibility on the Internet.
So out of 400,000 ad places, 395,000 don’t make a difference! Even John Wanamaker would be surprised.
By next week, JPMorgan Chase hopes to cut down those 5,000 sites to just 1,000, checked out by real live humans satisfied those places are not repugnant in all the ways the digital world can be.
Maybe I speak for only myself, but if it’s that simple (or at least, quickly possible) to do, what is everybody whining about? I assumed the vastness of the market served by the programmatic was so unwieldy there was no chance of figuring it out. And so, maybe I’m wrong.
In an essay on the Interactive
Advertising Bureau’s site, the organization’s CEO Randall Rothenberg lauded the bank and took some satisfaction that others marketers, “after a decade of ostrich-like
ignorance,” are getting on the brand-safety campaign wagon.
Rothenberg is in the rare position of being the chief of an industry ad organization applauding hard times inflicted on 395,000 sites, and counting.
"The soft sound you hear is the song of sanity that at long last is bringing harmony to the dangerously discordant digital advertising supply chain," he wrote. "It’s being billed as a big step forward for brand safety. But it’s much more than that: It’s an acknowledgement by the marketing and media industries that we are responsible for consumer safety, too."
Later he writes: “It’s not just digital ad tech companies that are culpable — agencies, publishers, and the brands themselves bear responsibility. As I said at our January Leadership Meeting, ‘There is no one culprit in this ugly scenario. All of us in this room play a role: the marketers pressing for billions of additional impressions at unsustainably low prices; the agencies pressuring the publishers for more and more free ‘added values’; the publishers so desperate for revenue that they run ads disguised as news and source ‘audience extensions’ on unsavory sites; the tech companies whose algorithms drive consumers to deceitful content; the journalists who complain but remain in their silos, unwilling to understand, let alone participate in correcting, their industry.’ “
Rothenberg noted that Procter & Gamble is also toughening up and using what I would suppose is a fair amount of clout to keep the ball rolling. It is pushing media companies to sign up the the Trustworthy Accountability Group self-regulation outfit, and comply with the basics.
And it’s been pretty widely reported that Google and Facebook are getting on the right side of the issues.
Still, it seems to me the outrage about ads showing up in places they ought not seemed largely feigned. “Shocked! I’m shocked,” say the Captain Renaults of the biz. So it's good that everybody is getting more real. "Casablanca" ends happily, too. Everybody does the right thing.
Rothenberg’s essay starts with a fascinating comparison of supply chains, if that’s even possible. He says every year, 121 billion cans of food and beverage are shipped around the United States. And “approximately one” can is contaminated with a botulism, or .00000000001% of all that are shipped.Then he writes, that “between 3% and 37% of impressions" are fraudulently generated by bots. “Add to those the valid ad impressions that appear on porn sites, or adjacent to pirated copyrighted entertainment, or near falsified content and other forms of ‘fake news,”’ and – well, let’s just say the incidence of bad advertising is at least a few hundred billion times greater than the incidence of bad canned food.”
Food for thought.