Back to Basics Part 2

16 05 2012

We have looked at advertising, we have discussed data and we have also looked at the two types of data that are commonly compared.

When digital advertising came along it came as the wild wild west. No one was sure how it would all work or if it would work. After the first Web “bubble” advertisers learned fear. All the money they had spent advertising with huge companies had not helped to sustain these companies. So where do they turn now and how do they get numbers they can use? In came the digital marketers. CPC came along so that advertisers didn’t have to spend huge chunks of money on advertising just to have their brand displayed.Now they only paid if someone actually clicked on their ad and visited their site. Unlike TV and Billboards the viewers could actually be counted and quantified. Advertisers now had actual numbers to shove into the face of CEO’s and board members when questioned about ROI and viewers. Soon the questions turned to “Are these real visitors?”, “How can we tell if they are real or bot?” as fraudsters, incentivized clicking and clicks by competitors entered the picture. Soon we began building filters to track mouse movement, look at valid user agent information, analyze screen sizes, catch rejected cookies, look for hidden links or redirects, make sure the javascript information is passing the visitor correctly all in an attempt to build a better mouse trap to catch an ever evolving fraud mouse. Advertisers still only want to pay for “real clicks” and “real visitors”. Never mind their sites may not be able to hold the attention of a gnat, or market baskets may be failing and customers are bailing on order that way, or that the prices for what they are selling are out of line with the competition or any other number of factors that come into play when dealing with site stickiness and consumer intent or that they had for decades before paid millions of dollars for a SUper Bowl ad that only caught the attention of the dog while the actual viewer was in the restroom or getting a snack or on the billboard who’s print was too small or on a highway next to a tree where the branches blocked the actual ad from view.  Digital had promised real, targeted viewers that would also deliver all kinds of personal data, geography data, time of day data, type of device data, mouse click data, size of screen data, first or second screen data, you name it….by GOD this was SCIENCE!……….or is it?

THIS is where we lost our way. Digital networks and sites began to over promise and under deliver. Fraud got in the way as it always does and now we not only block a lot of the bad clicks but we have made it next to impossible for the actual consumer to get through to complete a transaction due to all the security filters in place. So we are close to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Also there is now fraud on the other side. There are HUGE ad serving / search companies who are now using “Advertiser chargebacks” (amounts advertisers withhold from their payments due to fraud they claim to have captured in their data) to help them meet or beat Wall St. revenue expectations. They do this by claiming the advertiser never paid them for a certain amount of views or clicks due to fraud even though the advertiser made no such claim. They can do this because the probability of the publisher going back to the advertiser to see if there was a problem with the traffic is low AND because some of the ad serving companies have gotten so big that most just assume fighting the issue is a waste of time.

So how do we get back to the golden age of digital advertising? First lets ask, can we really deliver more than broadcast media who’s numbers are more like throwing lawn darts. Close but not there for complete accuracy. That answer would be yes. Even with fraud and consumer privacy factors you still have numbers that will give you the basics such as geo location, previous browsing history if the cookies are still in tact, or even direct intent in the case of search. You can even make assumptions based on the user agent data such as income. All are something broadcast can only come close to but not offer the accuracy of digital.

Advertisers need to realize that as in retail advertising budgets should include fraud. No matter how many better mousetraps are built there will always be a better mouse waiting to be released. Also they will never be able to provide the “holy grail” or user intent. That all knowing answer delivered in a bow for advertisers to jump on knowing exactly why the consumer was there and if they intend to purchase. Advertising will always be a combination of guessing and basic data protected by consumer privacy and mixed with a bit of fraud to send you off the trail.

So lets get back to basics. Take the data we are getting and remember it still is a numbers game and is all about quality of the product, stickiness and ease of use of the site and lastly intent of the consumer. Draw a triangle and remember you can only have two of the three Volume, Great offerings, Consumer Intent.

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