The research was conducted by Adalytics, which leveraged crawlers and accessed log-level data from a significant number of advertisers. It determined that a massive number of video ad deliveries on third-party sites were delivered on where the video was not visible, or where the sound was off -- and many on sites that were dynamically generated only to carry ads. All of which violate Google’s service promises.
Am I surprised? No. I have been in this industry for the past three decades and I have seen way, way too much of this kind of stuff. In the late ‘90s, it was the pop-under ads. It was the invisible pixel ads to win on “last-click tracking” reports. It was the rich-media units being sold as digital video, a five X multiplier of price created by changing how they were described.
And, since the massive growth of opaque programmatic platforms, there are the daisy chains of increasingly bad or fraudulent inventory that platforms happily bring to market, and the enormous and perverse incentives created. Since virtually eerie actors in the entire digital ad supply chain are taking cuts of every impression, this kind of stuff has become commonplace.
The shift of massive, multibillion-dollar TV ad budgets onto CTV has only put this whole process on steroids. Just last week, the Association of National Advertisers released a study on the digital media supply chain showing that at least $20 billion of U.S. ad spend is going to low-quality inventory, click-bait and made-for-advertising-sites -- just what Google apparently did here.
As many in our industry have been saying on Twitter these past two days, we are an industry rife with willful ignorance.
Yep, so many folks are making so much money pushing budgets downstream and taking cuts as the money passes them, that the last thing that any of them want is to know where the ad ended up actually running and how many rules were broken in between.
Who is losing? All the publishers with legitimate, premium inventory. So are the clients. Sure, they help cause this by pushing for irrational CPMs, which can’t be made by the legitimate providers, thus opening opportunities for people to break rules to fill demands for cheap inventory. But, at the end of the day, it is their money -- and their cost-consciousness is no excuse for the industry's immorality, negligence and fraud.
What will it take to fix this? We will all need to care, at least enough to call this stuff out as it is happening and to stop it when we can. Today, too few in our industry care enough to fix it.
What do you think?