In 2016, companies spent more on digital media ads than TV ads for the first time, making transparency — especially in programmatic buying — more important than ever.
A recent Metamarkets study on ad buying marketplaces produced a number of compelling figures, most shocking among them being the fact that three of every four marketers are concerned about the lack of data transparency in programmatic marketing.
These concerns aren’t just casual complaints, either — they’re actively shaping the marketing strategies of a large number of businesses. According to the study, 41% of respondents say they won’t significantly increase their programmatic ad budgets until the industry’s data transparency improves. However, the desire for programmatic growth is quite strong, with 74% of marketers claiming that if transparency practices change for the better, they will increase their programmatic spending by anywhere from 11% to 50%.
Furthermore, such spending increases will be mostly funneled to whichever vendors offer the most transparent data related to critical metrics like ad viewability. 73% of marketers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they would shift their budgets in favor of any vendor with a unified set of transparency standards, and 55% would immediately leave their current vendor for a vendor delivering demonstrably better transparency of any kind.
Research conducted by eMarketer indicates that 2016 was the first year in which digital ad spending surpassed television ad spending, with $72 billion and $71.29 billion spent on the respective channels. This is only the latest data point confirming a trend that industry insiders have been following for quite some time: the future of advertising is in digital media.
Combating Ad Fraud in Programmatic Ad Buying
Vendors’ first priority should be figuring out how to more effectively combat ad fraud — the Metamarkets study found that 78% of marketers believe ad fraud is inhibiting the growth and scale of programmatic media buying.
While ad fraud can take a number of forms, the most troublesome varieties involve bot traffic. By studying the nuances of programmatic ad buying software, fraudsters are able to set up carefully tailored dummy websites that, to a computer, appear to be lucrative investment options. These websites are designed to display everything programmatic algorithms look for and are then flooded with bot traffic, thereby tricking undiscerning ad buying systems into pouring thousands of dollars into ads that will be never be seen by human eyes.
Human ad buyers are certainly not immune to being fooled by fraudsters, but ad fraud is particularly troublesome in programmatic buying environments. According to the Association of National Advertisers, programmatically purchased video ads (a popular target for fraudsters on account of their high price) receive 73% more bot traffic than similar ads placed by human buyers.
As Ron Amram, VP of Media for Heineken USA, points out, solving the ad fraud crisis will require the kind of data transparency marketers have long been calling for. In a conversation with Adweek, Amram explained, “In order to really take this to the next level and allow us to reduce fraud as an issue, we need to work with vendors, isolate the issues, remove it from the ecosystem and work both sides of the fence. But all of this starts with transparency.”
Limits Data Transparency with AI Marketing Platforms
Still, while improving data transparency is a necessary step that the industry must take, there’s a ceiling to the level of transparency that can be realistically achieved in an environment like programmatic. With algorithms making hundreds and even thousands of purchasing decisions each day, there’s no guarantee that all of them will be profitable, no matter how transparent vendors are about viewability. Marketers should be trying to find ways to quickly react to the inevitable bad ad placement by pulling their investment from it if and when it occurs, rather than avoid it altogether.
Fortunately, certain AI marketing platforms are capable of responding to poor ad investments in real-time, getting better and better at avoiding fraudulent traffic as it continues to work with you. A tool like Albert™, the world’s first fully autonomous AI marketing platform, deploys deep learning, predictive analytics, and natural language processing to make thousands upon thousands of calculations regarding a company’s ad performance data. These calculations are then converted into actionable insights relating to everything from underperforming creative materials to fraudulent traffic sources.
Programmatic or not, modern digital marketing requires so much data that humans cannot be expected to manage it all on our own. By partnering with Albert™, marketers are given full access to the data and (artificial) thought processes that underlie how their companies’ ad buys are made, rendering the entire process more transparent and reducing your odds of falling prey to fraudulent bot traffic.