Marketers are masters of creativity. They thrive in the challenge of making a believer out of the sceptic. In the days of traditional marketing the marketing group engaged with pitch men to come up with stories to sell “happiness”. The correlation from the pitch to results was reasonably straight forward with probably minimum degrees of indentation. But in 2017, in the online world where there are at least 4.45 billion pages and almost each and every page is an advertisement publishing platform, the path from “the ad” to the sale is as complex and convoluted as can be.
Source of Obfuscation – Media buying and selling are predominantly done by computer systems that are designed to deliver ads to targeted and sometimes retargeted consumers with the intention of stretching the dollar and making it count. This means every creative has multiple distinct and exponentially high number of paths to reach a consumer. Each of these paths have multiple value capturers (to use the industry parlance Direct buy, Programmatic buy, Display only, Native Ad, DSP, SSP….). Everyone in the value chain has to capture their share of the Marketer’s budget and Everyone has to capture their own data to enable additional marketable effectiveness. The business model for all the participants in this industry is not based on effectiveness of the advertisement to your sales but on how much of your ad is shown in the 4.45 billion pages with the hope of a “Click”. So there is every incentive for all participants in the eco system to push for a “Click”.
One way to get a Click!– According to Association of National Advertisers (ANA) – Bots (Automated software) represented 3% to 37% of the impressions for their ads. That's up from last year, where bot percentages ranged from 2% to 22%, the study said. With all the sophisticated technology provided by all the participants in the digital ad world, it is fairly obvious that they will have a clue to the existence of Click Fraud as well. The additional challenge is the marketing groups of most large brands have minimal operational folks. The skill set required to manage this function has moved away from pure creative analysis, to technical and data analysis. As a result, brands have resorted to analyzed data back from the agencies and not looking at primary data for analysis. Combine the copious amounts of data being collected and potential spurious clicks and the skill differential to effectively manage this, the marketer/advertiser never truly gets to see manage the Output for the spend. They are managed by the eco system with some variation of the reality.
In order to fight the obfuscation and drive accountability and optimization, establish a Front End Media to Back End Sales solution, which on a per creative basis and per platform basis, questions each and every data point and by extension the money spent. All the data sources exist either with the media agency or with all the Ad-tech platforms. The leadership of the marketing organizations have to embrace a philosophy change and not be worried about the complexity. It is really very simple. Be the owner of your data, establish a simple framework for ingesting all the data, eradicating duplicates, have the ability to dynamically set goals and create a real time group that manages the outcomes. This group will be responsible for effecting real-time buy orders for your ad inventory. It needs a bit of reskilling the team on specific competencies. In essence, modularize the function to be creative, technical, data and operational teams. Use the best of breed solutions for each function and establish a business model that incentivizes outcome more than “clicks”.