Is there a transparency issue in digital advertising?

Written by Kirsty Bamford


digital advertising

We came across an interesting – and perhaps some could say, inflammatory – article in the Financial Times recently, which stated that “online advertising has brought with it an exponential increase in crap” and it’s “no wonder that consumers are resorting to ad blockers.”

Shocking? Are marketers becoming dissatisfied with digital marketing? Seeing as we operate in this industry we were naturally intrigued.

The amount spent on online advertising has been on a consistent hike over the past few years, with 2017 being the first year that more money will be spent online than television; digital advertising offers real time results with easily measurable results.

But earlier this year, Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, made a very important speech in which he made the above comments and called for a “clean up of the media supply chain” to improve transparency in digital advertising.

Looking back at what could have sparked his viewpoint, in 2012 P&G planned to make a massive saving of $1bn by targeting consumers through digital and social channels, however, crucially, this never translated into sales growth. Taking aim at the hidden measurements of the two biggest online players (never mentioned by name, but let’s assume they are Google and Facebook), Pritchard stated it is time that we introduced third party verification. These two companies alone have made billions on advertising in the past few years, with never once having to publish their data or comply with an industry-standard measurement.

It’s not clear how many people are seeing online adverts, and of those that do, how many are able to recall an online advert just seconds after it appears on screen. Whether a person is present or not, if an advert popped up on screen for a fraction of a second it will already have been counted as an impression. Yet, a recent investigation by the Association of National Advertisers found that up to 37% of online impressions are made by bots, not people – fake consumers

As the levels of uncertainty are increasing over the ROI of digital advertising, perhaps it is time for the industry to look at how we regulate online advertising. More and more companies are spending a higher percentage of their marketing budget online than anywhere else. Don’t you want to know what your money is being spent on? Do you think the industry makes false promises regarding the ROI of online advertising? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Read the original article “Advertisers trapped in an age of online obfuscation” in the Financial Times.

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