This past week saw a litany of stories about digital ad fraud encompassing not just desktops, laptops and tablets, but also mobile apps. The cost to marketers this year is said to be $19 billion, according to Juniper Research.
But that only counts fake impressions (clicks or views) and fake mobile application installs, so the total loss in all forms of ad-related fraud worldwide is undoubtedly far greater than $19 billion.
Given those numbers, it's no wonder advertisers keep tossing more money into the walled gardens of Facebook, Google and Amazon -- although they too have their own set of fraud problems that keep ad buyers up at night.
Meanwhile, the world of television is in chaos because viewers aren’t always in front of their flat screens, making measurement of the effectiveness of video ads that can be viewed across five or so different devices nearly impossible.
Both Nielsen and comScore are hustling to try and install new leadership to help figure how to catch this runaway horse.
Moreover, audiences aren’t just watching network and cable TV. They are all over OTT offerings, most of which are not ad-supported. Those that are, need a ton of work not to annoy viewers, who can cancel in a heartbeat (and are doing so in huge numbers).
While I'm sure the radio, direct mail (I only add this because my mailbox is stuffed with catalogues every day now), print and outdoor folks are milking all this with zest, there are lots of arguments to be made that increasing your spend in those areas will not really move the needle.
While all this has been happening, there have been momentous strides in attribution technology, so that what DOES get seen by REAL people can be measured against things like driving foot traffic to stores and actual sales, either online or in retail stores (the few that remain).
Data from hundreds of sources is being combined to give marketers a much clearer understanding of what worked, what didn’t and what to do to increase brand awareness and actual sales.
Now, this sounds pretty routine, right? But it wasn’t even a thing until about three or four years ago, and then it was too new to be proven effective. Now, there's little to no excuse for marketers not to understand exactly what creative in exactly what medium drove a sale. And it is getting more precise every day.
There are some companies that even guarantee their tech will drive sales, or you don’t have to pay. Contrast that to poor old Wanamaker, who had no idea which half of his spend worked.
With a lot of this tech now introducing AI-like ability to forecast what will work in the future, marketers ought to feel confident about this progress. No, it is not yet automated end-to-end and not yet foolproof -- but still, developments have been, well, awesome.
It will take a while longer to be able to capture accurate multiplatform attribution, but it is clearly coming -- and faster than you think.
This may not make you feel better about being scammed by digital fraud, but at least we are closing in on a day when it won’t matter -- because your spend will be redirected to platforms that deliver real sales.