We Hate Digital Advertising/We Love Digital Advertising!

Many of you are familiar with WARC research data.  It probably won’t surprise you that the company’s recently published Global Ad Trends overview has a significant portion dedicated to the challenges  of digital advertising.

First off, how come in 2018 we still accept that between 8% and 75% of digital ads do not reach consumers? WARC reports an average of 8% ad fraud for non-optimized programmatic ads, all the way up to 75% of click fraud on programmatic half-page desktop ads.

When was the last time that you, as an advertiser or media agency head, had a conversation with, say, NBC or ESPN about fraud rates? I know, I know, advertisers that buy the kind of unregulated, cheap digital ad space are the dummies, because today you can mitigate many of the fraud-inducing factors.

But the truth is, even if you do your utmost, you will still lose about 8% of your ad dollars to fraud, on average.

And the supply side (Facebook, Google, etc.) isn’t exactly helping advertisers to feel good about the direction digital advertising is going, and how much attention they are paying to creating a clean and safe environment.



In 2004, during the Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake famously (or infamously) exposed Janet Jackson’s nipple. Or did he? I will leave it to you to determine if Nipplegate was indeed a thing or not while you slow-mo the grainy YouTube videos that are still online. Some advertisers had to play the “we are shocked” card — but let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of today’s media environment, this was pretty innocent.

Today, the media and audiences around the world have to deal with Stormy Daniels, Harvey Weinstein, mass shootings, Facebook’s data leaks, every retailers’ credit card leaks and so on. In digital media, ads have appeared next to or within terrorism and sex videos. “We are shocked” — but at the same time, digital ad spend is still increasing. Sure, YouTube was banned for a hot minute, Laura Ingraham lost advertisers, and some advertisers are rethinking their Facebook strategies.

But online advertising’s value, according to WARC, stands at $212 billion — that’s a B. This, despite the fact that advertisers’ biggest issues are “social media risks and reputation management,” picked by 52% of respondents, followed by “ad fraud” at 33% and “ad misplacement” at 33%. The fourth largest issue is “ad viewability” at 32%. And “tech tax” (the monies paid to the tech stack middlemen) is estimated at around $30 billion. 

Online video is set to be the fastest-growing ad medium this year, with an estimated 29% growth in ad spend; much of that is mobile video, which should have its own uptick of 26%.

Luckily, consumers are  just as conflicted as marketers about the role of digital in their lives. They say (according to WARC published data) that adjacency of an ad to something “objectionable, insulting or hurtful” in online advertising will “change the way they think of the brand when making a buying decision” (37.3%) or even lead to them boycotting the brand (10.5%).

But United is showing growth in passengers and revenues each quarter, as does VW. And our President’s approval rating has gone up recently as well.

Surely there must be some professors somewhere who are chomping at the bit to figure this out. I sure can’t!

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