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Online advertising’s trust issues have ‘blackened the entire industry’, says PwC’s Brownlow

PwC partner Megan Brownlow has warned audiences about the trust issues that plague online advertising, claiming they have “blackened the entire industry”.

Speaking during her presentation of PwC’s Outlook report at Mumbrella360, Brownlow said: “If you think about the problems that we’ve been having over the last couple of years, they are all about trust.

“Internet advertising having low viewability, brand safety issues, fraud issues – that’s really blackened the entire industry.”

Brownlow on stage at Mumbrella360

As part of PwC’s Outlook report, Brownlow posed a hypothetical to industry experts: What if only quality inventory was sold?

“If there was such a laser focus on quality inventory, what would happen?” she asked the audience. “Well, scarcity would be reintroduced to the market, and we know what happens when scarcity occurs. Those publishers with fewer, better ads would see a rise in their rates.”

PwC Australia’s chief economist Jeremy Thorpe agreed that excessive digital advertising has become a cost for consumers, thanks to slow loading speeds and poorly-designed mobile ads.

He said: “If you reduce the number of ads you make loading easier, and you make the costs lower for consumers both in time and data. This means they are less likely to install ad blockers, which is ultimately the death spiral the industry wants to avoid.”

The Australian advertising market by platform

However, Brownlow noted that introducing scarcity would require “everybody to be aligned and a recognition that trusted quality inventory is worth more and you should pay more for it”.

James Diamond, who was on the panel of experts interviewed for PwC’s report, explained how the increase in quality of digital advertising will also help to boost its revenue.

“You can pay a $5 CPM (cost per thousand clicks or impressions) and get 10% viewability, or pay $5 CPM and get 90% viewability. Clearly they should be costed differently,” he said.

According to the Outlook report, the expectation is that those conditions will be met, thanks to the predicted growth in the online, mobile and video advertising market.

The report predicted the sharp growth in the online advertising market overall, with PwC predicting internet advertising will grow from 50.6% of the advertising market in 2017 to 63% in 2022.

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