Fraud In The Advertising Industry
- Half or more of the paid online display advertisements that ad networks, media buyers, and ad agencies have knowingly been selling to clients over the years have never appeared in front of live human beings.
- Agencies have been receiving kickbacks and indirect payments from ad networks under the guise of “volume discounts” for serving as the middlemen between the networks and the clients who were knowingly sold the fraudulent ad impressions.
- Ad networks knowingly sell bot traffic to publishers and publishers knowingly buy the bot traffic because the resulting ad impressions earn both of them money—at the expense of the clients who are paying for the impressions.
It was John Wanamaker who one famously said (I paraphrase) - “Half of my advertising spend is wasted - I just don’t know which half.” One of the promises of the digital economy was the ability to measure everything. It was going to be the advertiser’s salvation. Turns out not the case. Turns out that the systems can be gamed. Turns out that fraud is alive and well. And why ? Because again we are measuring the wrong thing. Surely advertising should be measured by the results - the increase to the bottom line if you will. But instead we are taking the easy way out and measuring what is easy. It’s just like EMail. Who cares about opens and clicks. What matters is revenue. Only when we work out to attribute that click on that link to the resulting revenue will we be able to truly know what works and what doesn’t, with the correct attribution … and after that we can really start to see through and solve the ‘JW conundrum’.