There’s two areas that are frequently talked about in the world of digital media – problem is, it’s generally all talk no action.
Auto-refresh and auditing. Big conversation topic. Still none of the big 5 have been audited or even begun the process. No real pressure from the industry either. At Sound Alliance, 95% of our immediate competitor are not audited … however still continue to incorrectly compare their unaudited (often in house figures) to our audited, third party figures. Apples with oranges.
Problem is, why audit? No agency currently demands it. No advertiser demands it. At Sound Alliance we’re audited, and I can safely say it gives us absolutely no competitive advantage whatsoever.
Explain the concept of auto-refresh and what it means (ie inflated pageviews and loads of ads never being seen by human eyes) and you get this sort of lethargic ‘yeah we know but …’ or ‘I don’t know what you mean’ … there doesn’t really appear to be resistance to auditing … it’s more apathy which is probably more of an issue. It feels to me that people are happy to have their ads seen by no one as long as they feel they’re getting a good deal on the CPM. It’s ridiculous.
Clutter is similar. The websites in this country that get the most revenue and advertiser support are the most cluttered Some have anything from five to fifteen ads per page. Fifteen ads! How can any advertiser have impact? How can you generate cut through? It defies logic. With clutter you get the same mix of apathy and indifference – they either don’t care because they feel that ‘every impression is created equal’ and hence need to drive CPM efficiency or even more dire, the reach argument (reach at any cost … even if no one remembers the ad or sees it). Others don’t really think about the real issue – the more advertisers on the page the less cut through.
Here’s the issue – you can try and run an operation where you commit to an audit and ensure your traffic is legitimate … and minimise ad clutter to ensure those who are on the site generate a tangible benefit beyond dropping a cookie on a user … but if this isn’t considered important by the market, what’s the incentive.
If TV stations started serving 15 ads for every ad break but wanted the same CPM TV buyers wouldn’t cop it. Or if they started charging the same for a 15 that another network was charging for a 30. It would not be tolerated, end of story.
With digital it is. And the only way it’s going to change is if the advertisers demand it.
What would an advertiser – ie a large bank, FMCG, Auto manufacturer – think about their ads appearing alongside 8 other ads – many competitive? How would they feel about their ads being served up in minimised browsers? How would they feel about buying on sites that fraudulently claim engagement by using Auto-Refresh?
My bet is they’d be pissed.
Thing is, it’s happening all the time right now.