Are you wasting money on online advertising?

Amidst the changing face of advertising, we, as an industry, are constantly looking for ways to assess the effectiveness of a given campaign and to judge its potential reach. After all if you can measure it – you can manage it.

One of the key factors for digital advertising, and indeed the basis of much ad pricing, is views – simply the number of times the advert is viewed by someone browsing the website on which it’s located.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, the worlds largest marketing services group, has recently warned Google that it needs to improve the detection rates of fake advert views as marketers may start to focus their efforts in advertising elsewhere such as the press or television. The comment was made in response to news that marketers had been getting charged for ad views on YouTube even when the viewer had already been identified as a robot rather than an actual person.

More clients than ever are expanding their advertising budgets online, as it is clearly where a lot of potential customers spend increasing amounts of time. If however, a portion of this budget is being thrown down the virtual drain because of ‘bots’ then, by extension, the trust factor of these advertising platforms such as Facebook or Google becomes tainted.

What clients want is clear, concise and reliable data that can be used to accurately measure how well an advertising campaign is doing. If this data has a large number of fake views then the customer is unknowingly losing money as well as accurate ad data.

Digital platforms invest heavily in technology and staff to keep bots out of its systems, but as it stands it seems they’re not being honest enough to its customers with regards to not charging customers for ads they know are being viewed by bots.

The key upshot to this is to always take a reasoned approach to analysis of marketing results. Whilst data can give a very detailed picture of what’s going on it is still limited by its basis in roboticised processes and whether you are reaching your target market can often best be judged by the results you experience directly. It’s also important not to forget the value of ‘traditional’ advertising which is, despite the absence of real time analytics, is becoming increasingly effective once again in many sectors. An effectiveness that is, ironically, due to the growing prevalence of digital platforms as the sole channel of communication.

Whilst there is no magical solution to these issues, it highlights the value in having both an open mind to your marketing, and ensuring that all your eggs are not in one basket.