Industry fraud policies, viewability, and verification are three buzz words on the tips of everyone’s tongue in the digital advertising world, and there is no doubt that brands are highly concerned. Facebook has admitted to misreporting its video views and, for the third time since confessing to discrepancies in its ad data on likes and shares, is readjusting the reporting of reach. And note Facebook’s policy stating they believe in measuring “viewed impressions” versus “served impressions”.
Twitter is already backpedaling in some respects from its promise of 100% in view for at least three seconds. It’s offering brands another option for paying less when the ad follows the Media Ratings Council (MRC) standard that says digital ads should be 50% in view for two seconds.
Intensifying concerns is the continued growth of ad blocking despite several sites like Facebook and Twitch now blocking the ad blockers. Plus, a general lack of standards for measurements has digital advertisers scratching their heads.
It’s no wonder advertisers are questioning their digital spends. Some companies are issuing zero fraud policies and some companies are even starting to require verification companies for metrics like views. However, companies are still advertising as it’s a necessary evil despite these issues.
For companies with audience growth metrics, for example, spending on advertising will help achieve the objective. Take P&G for instance – the company just announced an 8% sales drop and interestingly isn’t spending less on Facebook. There are also plans to focus on broader reach than precision targeting and is choosing to bring back sampling to drive trial and, hopefully, sales with its consumers.
The most obvious step to protecting your ad spend is to understand the platform that you are buying the ad through, as well as the placement and format. Several platforms serve direct and you can choose the ad’s placement. For instance, when using Facebook Ads, you can choose the Newsfeed, which Facebook tells us is 100% viewable. But, remember once you leave the newsfeed and expand to Facebook audience network, that 100% is no longer guaranteed.
In terms of Twitter, video ads are 100% viewable but 50% of the video must be present for two seconds. Regular Twitter card ads are not 100% viewable but are currently being tested.
Ad blocking technology dominates display and banner advertising. Social media platforms however, can work around this because you are purchasing the ad directly on the platform it serves on, typically a closed network app. Once again, be wary of audience networks and expanding your reach beyond that platform because at that point, ads are pulled into apps and partner sites that can fall victim to ad blocking technology.
Not only are influencers’ blogs impervious to ad blocking, they allow influencer marketing companies to pixel the content, leading to verified views and other metrics. In addition, we see an average of more than two minutes spent with their content across categories from consumer electronics, beauty, food to fashion, and more. Banner ads typically receive less than one second of viewing despite the millions of dollars spent. With influencers, you’ll see evergreen content that can also be repurposed for additional syndication on the brand’s social channels. We’ve discovered tremendous success taking great performing influencer content and using it in Facebook ads to drive engagement or to identify new audiences.
No doubt that 2017 will continue to bring scrutiny to ad spending. But according to eMarketer, advertisers are increasing their budgets rather than running away from the viewability and fraud concerns, and that’s a good sign. Everyone is racing to address the market’s concerns as evidenced by Facebook’s transparency, to name one, and we are looking forward to greater progress in the new year.