Enough is enough for ad fraud and meaningless metrics

Long-tie Vivaki employee, and now Spotify VP for Europe, argues that client demand for metrics will shake-up digital

Marco Bertozzi, Spotify, VP, Europe, highlights the recent controversy around the measurement of online advertising, and concludes that strict metrics will be the new norm in ad land.

It's the end of the road for most of what we consider to be the norm in digital advertising. There are 600 million reasons why, according to a Meetrics survey, that stated £600m was wasted on advertising in 2016 alone because they were not hitting standards.

The much-discussed Marc Pritchard IAB presentation of a few weeks ago added further fuel to this fire with his no nonsense speech highlighting the issues in our industry. It is clear now that whether people like it or not, non-viewable, fraudulent impressions cannot remain the norm; in fact they cannot remain. The agency groups are upping their standards, various industry bodies are asking for more from the digital industry, it is an area gathering an unstoppable pace.

One thing that does not happen often is a review, side-by-side of peoples standards on what counts as a view. If you look at the major players it ranges considerably. Often suppliers highlight the side-by-side on metrics that suit them, what if you were to compare all of the metrics side-by-side.

The picture then changes considerably, as different companies can only really shine in a few areas. One of the major digital players on the market for instance, a new entrant, charges an advertiser as soon as the video starts. That's it. It starts, you pay. I am amazed that any advertiser would be prepared to take that as an acceptable metric to pay against.

The crunch comes when you stand side-by-side with media suppliers and ask them to compare against how an ad starts. The main questions are: is the audio on? Is the video skippable? Can you adblock? Are the users logged in? How are views counted?

The results are dramatic, if video ads are seen for increments longer, then all those numbers increase a lot. Some of this has been brought on by the shift to mobile, one of the biggest issues is through design. Designing for a mobile world means we are scrolling and swiping, making the viewability discussion for example even harder.

There is the view however that every advertiser should be considering if they want to live in the Procter & Gamble view of the world. The interesting thing is that these stats prove to be a huge benefit. A number of research projects have demonstrated that the more a video is viewed and has audio on, the higher the ad recall, purchase intent and favourability - obvious right? So how come this is such a struggle to a buy?

In joining Spotify I came thinking about the data opportunity, the ability to understand people through music, the brand and so on. I did not expect to join and discover that we have the single most impressive media inventory environment of anyone in the business. BIG claim right?

Well a warning to anyone who meets me in the coming weeks because this is a serious claim. In a 'post-Pritchard address world' I feel like what we are doing here at Spotify is going to have to be the norm. I feel that some of these standards that we follow may well become industry standard in time.

As our users progress through the day whether listening to audio ads or watching video we want to make sure that advertisers know that when they have ads out there, they are seen or heard, possibly most importantly, by-a-human. Are You a Human, a company dedicated to identifying fraud, has highlighted that 58% of internet traffic is driven by bots! Meanwhile, Spotify has 100% logged-in users and bring zero fraud to the ecosystem. As buyers we have tried for years to improve the quality of what we have been buying, so now as a seller I am excited to go to market with inventory that leads the market.

One of the big tests from a selling perspective is what you are willing to put behind your claims. Well Spotify have bet the house with cost-per-completed views and engagement. The only reason we can do that is because we have a little list of benefits:

  • 0% Fraud
  • User initiated video
  • Audio on
  • 95% viewable, willing to sell on 100%
  • 100% share-of-voice
  • No Ad blocking
  • Logged in users
  • Viewed impression - on complete
  • Skippable - no

Those who know me well, know that I will always proudly represent where I work. VivaKi (as was) fought to have much higher standards when I was there in quality of inventory and fraud, and I felt it important to make sure that our customers knew that. Now I am at Spotify, I am proud to say that we have a media opportunity that I hope the industry will start to move towards, where they have that opportunity.

If this industry is to survive we have to raise the game and can no longer hide any more behind technology and ignorance.

Marco Bertozzi

After moving through the ranks of ZenithOptimedia and TMP Worldwide, Marco Bertozzi joined VivaKi in 2010 and established addressable media buying practice Audience on Demand.

In February he was promoted to president of global clients at the firm to focus on advising Publicis Groupe’s largest accounts.

The past twelve months have also seen him oversee the decentralisation of AOD into the network’s agencies. Bertozzi regularly writes for the Wall Street Journal, FT, the Guardian and others on programmatic advertising. He is also a mentor for students at University College London.

All by Marco