Tag Archives: Media Buying and Planning

The Canal Street Of Media

If you get off the New York City subway on Canal Street, it isn’t long before you’re approached by someone selling fake goods.  Preeminent among them are the watch salespeople, but it’s not hard to find fake bags, jewelry, luggage, or just about anything else that has a supposed high value at a very low cost (which can be negotiated lower if you press the seller).  I racked my brain to come up with some other example of consumers knowingly buying fraudulent goods but I am unable to do so.  Oh – except for one: programmatic advertising space in media.

In December 2014, AdWeek reported that, according to an Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps study, digital advertising was projected to take in $43.8 billion in 2015, and $6.3 billion would be based on fraudulent activity. The average bot level for display ad campaigns throughout the study was 11%, but for programmatic ad buys that number rose to 17% (55% more). Bots account for 11% of display ad views and 23% of video ads and up to 50% of publisher traffic is bot activity, just fake clicks from automated computing programs.  They estimate that between 3% and 31% of programmatically bought ad impressions were found to be from bots, with an average of 17 percent.

Despite the fact that everyone buying digital ad campaigns knows that they might be buying fake goods, a study from the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester finds that 79% of marketers have made programmatic ad buys within the past year. (The growth is staggering: In 2014, the number was 35%.).

“While programmatic buying indeed offers benefits, it suffers from complexity and a lack of transparency,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA. “And that is wasteful. The industry — and marketers in particular — would greatly benefit from a rethink of the entire digital supply chain.”  Ya think?  What’s interesting isn’t that many advertisers are moving programmatic buying in-house where, in theory, they can have more control and better oversight or are taking other steps to deal with fraud: it’s that a significant number aren’t doing so.

Like the shoppers on Canal Street, any marketer who is buying programmatically without asking a LOT of questions and taking actions to increase transparency is knowingly buying fake goods.  Are you?


Leave a comment

Filed under digital media, Huh?

Another Nail

Those of us who were fortunate to work in TV used to have a pretty good business, way back when.  You’d find a peach basket, open the window, and watch the basket fill up with money.  OK, it was a little harder than that, but TV has always been a business that grows exponentially in good times and shrinks only a little in bad times.  Growth was as reliable as the US Dollar.  So when I read the piece I’m about to show you, a quote from “The In-Laws” (one of my all-time favorite movies) jumps to mind: 

What do you think will happen when they run off this dough… and there’s trillions of extra dollars, francs, and marks floating around? You’ve got a collapse of confidence in the currency. People are gonna panic. There’s gonna be gold riots, atonal music… political chaos, mass suicide. Right? It’s Germany before Hitler. You can see that. Jesus, I don’t know what people are gonna do… when a six-pack of Budweisers costs $1,200. That’ll be awful.

In other words, when the basic currency of a business has changed substantially, chaos ensues.  It’s my belief that we’ve reached that point in media, as this report states:

For the first time outside of a recession, linear TV ad spend has stopped growing, according to global ad revenue updates by MAGNA Global and ZenithOptimedia, both released Monday. While national TV ad sales grew .3% to $42 billion in 2015, MAGNA predicted it will decrease by .3% in 2016. ZenithOptimedia’s Advertising Expenditures Forecast also found TV’s share of global ad spend will decrease from 38% in 2015 to 34.8% in 2018.

The basic currency – the TV CPM which is tied to the TV rating point – has lost its stability.  There are trillions (OK, billions, anyway) of extra GRPs available.  Pricing pressure has always been downward, but now there are options available that seem to be making that stick. I think we’re in a brief period where live events will hold pricing stable, but when only about a quarter of viewers are watching TV “live”, how long can that last?

This was the most ominous sentence in the piece: A shift in viewer attention and changing advertiser investments may therefore contribute to a decrease in both supply and demand for linear TV impressions.  The shift has happened.  The pretty good business is rethinking itself.  There will be political money and Olympics revenue in 2016 to serve as a band-aid as it does so.  But by 2017, the times could be, in the words of the Chinese curse, interesting.


Leave a comment

Filed under digital media, Reality checks

The Rise Of The Machines

One of the things I do to amuse myself when the weekend weather isn’t cooperative is to play video games.  I’m almost done playing the Mass Effect trilogy, which I highly recommend.  The games’ story revolves around a galactic war between biotics (humans and other species) and synthetics – machines, basically.

I flashed back to the game as a dozen articles about programmatic media buying came through my news feeds.  I don’t think it’s a shock to any of you to read that media buying has been transitioning from the personal, relationship-based business in which I grew up to programmatic.  People don’t talk to one another in today’s media buying and selling business: machines do. The days (and nights) of long lunches, emailed proposals, phone calls on Friday afternoons to sell out the weekend, and the entire one-to-one negotiating process have become mostly a memory.

I get it.  Programmatic is far less labor-intensive and a lot more efficient than the way I learned to sell media.  Efficiency, however, isn’t the total story and as the machines take over quite a few other things get lost.  The biggest one in my mind is transparency.  In many cases, the current media buying platforms primarily provide breakdowns of networks, and total schedule dayparts, and only after the campaign is complete do you see what has transpired and individual spot affidavits are shared.  Clients (the people who pay the bills, after all) are spending big chunks of their budgets on a plethora of middlemen, each of whom extracts their little pound of flesh for touching the buy.  It’s common for a third or more of the buy’s budget going to pay for services rather than media.

The biggest issue I have, frankly, is the loss of context.  Buying has shifted to buying audience delivery from buying based on content.  The machines buy and sell cookies, basically.  Those cookies might enable the buyers and sellers to learn quite a bit of information who is on the other end but they don’t add context.  Does that matter?  Indeed it does.

“While it certainly offers the opportunity to reach audiences more efficiently, our research shows that advertisers can’t ignore the strength of the publisher’s brand as a fundamental part of the ad experience and overall effectiveness of the campaign.”  That’s a quote from chief marketing officer and chief client officer at Millward Brown Digital as he reported on a study they had done.

According to Millward, as the “Brand Score” went up, so did the fit of advertisements, the consumers’ enjoyment of the ads, the trust consumers placed in the ads and the usefulness of the ads. Millward based its ratings on behavioral and attitudinal data collected about the consumers that visited the 44 sites during February 2014.

It’s not just about getting the right message to the right people at the right time.  It also involves the right place (read site/program).  I think that takes a human touch.  While beer ads make sense to a young male, those ads on a page containing “beer” and “drinking” keywords might also be a report of a car wreck due to drunk driving.

The human touch in media buying alerted us to when an episode might have subject matter that’s wrong for our ad. Buying audiences without regard for the show they’re watching or site they’re reading is allowing the machines to win at the expense of our marketing.  As the guys who spent the weekend battling them, I say no.  You?


1 Comment

Filed under digital media