So many conferences like to start you off with happy stories and grand visions -- but at this one, we learned about how big fraud is in digital advertising, how it operates, and why everyone in the TV and video ad ecosystem should be worried.
For example, Internet Protocol-connected “smart” TVs are being used to pipe TV-like ads into TV-like content in ad-supported video on demand and — latest buzzword — CTV (Connected TV) environments, and fraud similar to what we see in digital advertising could invade this space.
For sure, the world of television needs to take a much more digital approach to how it approaches advertising, especially in audience measurement, supplementing (or replacing) Gross Rating Points and age/sex demographics with person-level impression counts and reporting. Reporting needs to be provided on an ongoing basis, ideally in real time, but at least within days of campaign completion, not weeks or months. And sales and lead-based attribution should be table stakes in TV campaign offerings.
However, there are some areas of digital that television needs to completely avoid: the many pollutants in the digital ad ecosystem.
We all know well the problems of fraud, bots and unviewable impressions in the digital ad world. Virtually all of us have heard about it, and experienced it for years.
Well, as many of us in the audience learned Tuesday from Craig Silverman, media editor at BuzzFeed News, fraud has already established a beachhead on TV. Over 22% of programmatic OTT/CTV video advertising today is invalid, according to fraud management company Pixelate -- and the OTT business is just getting started.
Silverman has studied digital ad fraud extensively, spent a lot of time explaining exactly how it happens and how and why folks miss it. Most are either asleep at the switch or don’t want to know, he said.
Fortunately, however, he didn’t just leave us hanging, wondering whether the 22% of fraud on OTT/CTV ads today was going to inevitably mushroom into a multi-billion-dollar cesspool on TV as it has on pure digital formats like banners and digital video.
Nope. Providing glimmers of hope to the assembled masses, he offered up a prescription to help stop the fraud from leaching into the TV ad world. I’ll paraphrase some of his bullets here:
-- Recognize this is a problem and stop it while OTT and CTV are still new.
-- Educate everyone in your organizations, particularly the leaders.
-- Don’t be complacent. Fraudsters are very motivated (by all the money they are taking).
-- Paying for detection verification is not enough. Have someone take responsibility for stamping it out.
-- Stop accepting make-goods and credits without asking questions -- difficult, uncomfortable questions.
-- Call out the bad actors publicly -- don’t just take the make-goods and credits and let them keep doing it.
I was so happy to hear Silverman talk about these steps. For once, it wasn’t just about someone calling out a problem with no solution. He gave lots of color to each of his bullets. It gave me real hope.
Of course, the real question is whether folks who can prevent this digital ad fraud from getting to the TV will follow his instructions. For many, it might require calling attention to the fact that they were fooled -- which may be too much for many. But I hope not.
What do you think? Can TV adopt digital ad approaches without being infected by digital ad pollutants like fraud?