2017’s sexiest marketing topics

The industry has been put on notice and if common sense prevails, viewability, bot fraud and third-party auditing are about to become a whole lot sexier, which will ultimately mean more growth for brands and advertisers, argues ThinkTV's Kim Portrate.

Ten points to Marc Pritchard for making his “not sexy” marketing topics as sexy as all hell last week. If common sense prevails, the themes of his address at IAB’s Annual Leadership meeting in Florida will actually prove to be the industry’s sexiest topics of 2017.

Last week P&G’s chief brand officer caned large swathes of the online advertising industry for a string of shortcomings that the world’s biggest advertiser is no longer willing to avert its gaze from.

Pritchard put us all on notice. All the industry’s sacred cows – ludicrous viewability standards, the rise of bot and methbot fraud along with online ad platforms marking their own scorecards – were put under the microscope in a scorching and fearless speech.

And in probably the most pragmatic assessment of the modern marketing playbook, he admitted that P&G, like many others, has been distracted by the “latest shiny objects” and taken its eyes off real stuff: like demanding to know what it is paying for.

Now, I don’t think any one group – marketers or agencies or media owners – owns this issue but I do think it’s time to take a collective look and inject common sense back into the work we do. You know, the basic rules that seem to have been suspended in a mad rush to embrace the cult of the shiny and new.

So let’s have a look at Pritchard’s views and see why they are set to become the industry’s hottest topics of 2017.

1. Viewability, anyone?

P&G, he said, spends too much time comparing the contrary viewability metrics of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube and others.

Take a squizz at the table below and you can see his point: the definition of what constitutes a “view” is, not to put too fine a point on it, a total soup.

The reports that emerge from these inconsistencies – big numbers from global internet companies to impress, confuse and obfuscate – are what I call ‘Numberwanging’ (our candidate for the sexiest marketing word of 2017).

The lack of standards creates confusion and cost and all too often the numbers shed no light on reality or the key metrics marketers are interested in – the ones that show an impact on profitable sales.

There’s also the big question of whether your online video ads are actually viewable on the screen. “Not nearly as reliably as you’d like”, according to Nielsen.

Generally, 50% of digital ad impressions aren’t viewable, said the research house in late 2015. “Of course, if an ad isn’t viewable, it will have no impact,” added Nielsen. “If you’re going to go all-digital, your agency must address the viewability issue or you will be wasting a good part of your media spend.”

You certainly will, according to a report by Integral Ad Science Report in September 2016 which also found that more than half of Australia’s digital ad inventory remained unviewed.

And that’s assuming your digital ads will actually be delivered to the audience you target. Nielsen data on more than 30,000 digital ad campaigns showed that only about 60% of digital ad impressions reach the intended audience.

TV, of course, is different. Broadcast TV ads take up 100% of the screen 100% of the time. It’s viewability on steroids.

Not only that but OzTAM’s third-party measurement panel system ensures that the ad and the program have to be played at normal speed – with the sound on – to be credited in the ratings.

If only the same could be said of the interweb, which us leads to another of Pritchard’s bugbears.

2. Bot fraud

The staggering scale of bot and methbot fraud was underlined just before Christmas when security firm White Ops revealed that a group of Russian criminals are making up to US$5 million every day in the biggest digital ad fraud ever uncovered and perpetrated by faking clicks on online video ads.

These crafty crims create tons of fake impressions and tons of fake actions to get tons of real money from brands. It’s a bit like placing your ad in a free newspaper and stumbling across a stack of them dumped at the tip a million miles high, wrappers still on.

It underscores the inherent risks of buying blind through programmatic exchanges rather than through a trusted, premium publisher.

And so to Pritchard (and Portrate’s) final pet peeve.


Kim Portrate: ThinkTV

3. “Media that mark their own homework”

Pritchard was refreshingly blunt on the “ridiculousness” of the current situation where massive online platforms like Facebook and Google craft performance figures with no accredited third-party measurement verification.

Online platforms can work fantastically well for many advertisers, in particular when mixed with other mediums, but – as Pritchard pointed out – regardless of how much we trust and respect the people from whom we buy media, we need an “objective and impartial judge to perform the measurement”.

He said: “We have this for TV but not broadly in place for digital, despite the fact that Nielsen, Moat and many others have the capabilities. Instead we have too many who are self-reporting, and incredibly we as clients are still tolerating it.”

Clients who use OzTAM’s third-party measurement panel can sleep soundly tonight knowing it is independent and audited, and is about to increase by 50% in size this year, making Australia the largest per capita people metered market in the world.

Brands should tolerate nothing less, just as you should expect the same rigour from every platform you spend your precious money with.

So here’s to three of the industry’s raciest topics for 2017: viewability, third-party verification, and protection from bot fraud.

Let’s put our heads together and bring sexy back.

It’s good for all of us, you know it feels right, and it will ultimately mean growth for brands.


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