This is the final part of a three part update on online media consumption and habits, the first part discussed changing media consumption behaviour, the second part discussed changing world online media consumption. This final part will look at the challenges facing advertising online.
Online advertising is a troublesome media channel- i can see why many prefer to avoid it.
It accounts for 20% of the ad industry’s total spending, and over 90% of revenue for the internet giants Google and Facebook. That said, no one seems to have any idea whether it actually works.
That uncertainty reached a new high early December, as Google announced that 56.1% of ads served on the internet are never even “in view”—defined as being on screen for one second or more. That’s a huge number of “impressions” that cost money for advertisers, but are as pointless as a television playing to an empty room.
So what are the three key challenges facing online Media?
We already know that very few people (five out of 10,000) click on a box or a banner display ad. And as mentioned above maybe fewer than 40% of ads are “seen”.
There are many reasons for that. Connectivity plays a key role. For example, many rich media ads take forever to load. Readers scroll fast and can bypass an ad in no time as it loads slowly. Some ads are placed down too far on the screen to ever be viewed. Also ads are potentially pre-programmed to run yet the viewer doesn’t have the specific software needed to view it. My iPad doesn’t run Adobe Flash so I miss all those ads.
Check; how easily do your ads load, where are they positioned?
First the numbers. The Wall Street Journal recently tagged total digital ad spending at $50 billion, 28% of all ad spending and up from 16% five years ago.
Fraudsters will obviously will go where the money is. On the Web, the fraud is perpetrated through bots. Unscrupulous players set up phony Web sites to hijack traffic and ad dollars bought and sold on computer exchanges.
The WSJ alsol estimates that 36% of Web traffic is fake. That’s a scary number to marketers who already question the efficacy of digital marketing. Here’s a link to one Bot discovery that was raking in $US 6 million per month in ad revenue. spider.io has observed the Chameleon botnet targeting a cluster of at least 202 websites. 14 billion ad impressions are served across these 202 websites per month. The botnet accounts for at least 9 billion of these ad impressions. Advertisers are currently paying $0.69 CPM on average to serve display ad impressions to the botnet.
The the current average price of web ads reflects their less-than-stellar performance at generating incremental sales lift. Per-impression, the cost of a web ad is at most about 10% of the price of other channels ( maybe suggests what we should believe is the ratio of their effectiveness). If assessment technology improves to reduce this type of click-bot fraud, then the prices of this ad channel should theoretically increase. Unfortunately, the direction of digital ad sales is towards increasing automation (called programmatic buying and selling), which yields even more opportunities for fraud to survive and repressing any upward pressure on prices.
Check; Do the advertisers you work provide metrics like (distributions of) mouse hovering over ad time (represented by heat maps for the pages your creative is on), in-view time, % watched for animated and video ads, etc. Do your media channels monitor and verify advertising campaigns for bot fraud, looking out for abnormal patterns of ad impressions and clickthroughs.
The new approach (related to ad viewability) is selling advertising based on time and attention, or “engaged time.” The Financial Times and The Economist are both working towards this, with the latter having a program promising 250 hours of in-view time for a marketer’s ad.
Check: Does your Ad agencies buy media based on standardized metrics that enable them to compare performance across publisher sites. Attention-based metrics remain experimental, a long way from industry adoption but its worthwhile exploring.
All in all, we know that online media is taking a greater share of consumers time, we fail to have a clear line of sight between what we place and whats maybe seen. And while we can pay per click, what’s clicked may not now be seen. Once we can join our ads with the views of consumers then we can rest a little more easy. If we are able to address these three concerns, we can begin to link what we input to what’ viewed.