Low data prices has increased Internet users in India (mobile first Internet market) while propelling the growth/reach of social media giants as well as video content watch time over the last 5 years; but digital media still isn’t the preferred vehicle of marketing for most clients and only accounts for 25-30% of the industry spends, although it is growing YOY.
The adoption of digital media has been hindered by the fragmented digital ecosystem, doubts over ad fraud and effectiveness of the medium, questions over viewability of ads, traditional mindset of brand managers and their lack of understanding of the digital ecosystem. Even until recently, I have been asked to run campaigns targeting the brands HQ or been provided with custom audience lists of senior executives in the company, to be targeted with the brand campaign so as to satisfy and address the question a lot of brand managers ask – I am not able to see my ad; as they compare it to traditional media where ads are shown in an appointment-viewing manner.
The ever-changing pandemic situation has definitely forced a digital pivot, with print and outdoor media taking a hit. Brand managers are forced to consider digital due to its targeting capabilities ensuring low spillage and cost efficiencies. And like learning the ABCs of the alphabets, all brands jump on the bandwagon of Facebook and Google with over 80% budget going to these 2 platforms. The platform scale/reach, along with cost efficiencies as well as brand credibility is definitely unbeatable in the space and hence becomes a no brainer for brands. But as the adoption of the duopoly increases, the strength and power of the walled gardens grow and so do their prices.
As marketers spend more on these platforms, they understand less about their customers as walled garden campaigns and interactions can’t be tied back to the brand’s CRM database. Brands receive a consolidated view of how their campaigns performed rather than an individualized view. There’s no way to verify impression/reach data or understand affinity target selections that work, you simply have to take it on faith. Yet marketers continue to spend more and get less.
A more equitable value exchange needs to be more about standardizing taxonomy and identifiers across all of these platforms to see and understand the customer journey. Today, even having unified unique reach in a digital campaign is next to impossible due to the fragmented ecosystem as well as walled gardens.
With the increased spends on digital, reports indicate that ad fraud rates gone up by 40% in these COVID times. Today ad verification in India is in its nascent stages and only around 10-15% invest on third party verification tools. The path for safer and more secure digital advertising effectiveness lies in third party ad verification, which ensures that brands are investing in quality media. Third party verification would ensure 4 things mainly
- Brand Safety/Brand suitability – identify inflammatory/negative content and protect brand image/reputation
- Ad Fraud – identifying Invalid Traffic to help evaluate efficacy of platform and calculate brands return on media investment
- Viewability – helps measure effectiveness of ad delivery
- In Geo – ensure ads served within intended demographics
Advertisers need to understand these underlying challenges as the adoption of digital increases at a rapid pace. Investing in third party verification tools will not only improve trust and transparency in the ecosystem, while also holding publishers accountable and thus help decreasing fraudulent traffic and increasing overall return on investment.