Money is power and dollars speak louder than words, and in 2018 brands are spearheading major change in the digital advertising ecosystem. With billion-dollar concerns like ad fraud, transparency, and brand safety, 2018 will be a major turning point — or will it?
50% of advertisers indicate that digital ad spend won’t decrease even if challenges like ad fraud persist. It is going to take a gutsy brand to step-up and say “no more.” For far too long, much of the power in the digital ad ecosystem has rested within two walled gardens. Companies like Procter and Gamble (P&G), Diageo, and Verizon will help force change, stripping away any friction between their brands and their consumers.
Organizations such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group, the Media Rights Council, and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) are helping to set new standards for viewability, weeding out fraudulent ad inventory, and providing greater transparency in ad buying. Despite actions taken by agencies and brands to improve safety and security, huge challenges still exist that cost the industry billions of dollars. Consider that, in 2017, 97% of sites with unique content were hit by bots, 96% of login pages were hit by bots, and, within the top 10,000 global websites, bad bot traffic increased by 36%.
While bot traffic may show a more direct impact on brands’ bottom lines, brand safety is actually marketers’ number one concern in 2018. The reason: brand equity and reputation can be destroyed instantly through association with controversial content. In 2017, ads from many large companies and the UK government appeared alongside content from white nationalists David Duke, who praised the killing of 49 people in a gay nightclub. Content is king and bad content can literally destroy a brand overnight.
72% of CMOs are very concerned about brand safety and 78% of them feel that their brand’s reputation has been damaged by appearing alongside unsavory content. Let’s face it: finding premium video inventory is a challenge, especially when Facebook and YouTube control a massive chunk of it. In 2017, it became apparent that these two industry leaders could not with 100% certainty provide complete brand safety. Today, Facebook can only provide full brand safety for ad buys that reach $750,000 or more.
Jun Group, in partnership with the ANA, had a chance to sit down with Marc Pritchard, chief marketing officer of P&G to discuss the industry’s go-forward strategy, tackling the biggest marketing challenges of 2018.
“Last year it came together in a galvanizing force: one viewability standard, 3rd party accredited MRC verification, TAG certified fraud prevention, transparent agency contracts, and brand safety. The point is we need that, and if we don’t get that, then we’re going to vote with our dollars…”
In 2018, brands are taking control. One simple way brands are generating a greater return on their digital spend is increasing their in-app spend. Apps provide a level of security that is not present in the wilds of the open web. It’s near impossible to send fake traffic to an icon that lives on your smartphone. In-app ads are immune to bots. In-app inventory also generates 2x the CTR and 11.4x the performance compared to mobile web ads. Brands are also testing new app categories, such as games, that can deliver 100% brand-safe content. This is an area of huge growth within mobile, as reflected by the fact that there’s even a new term for the 203 million Americans that casually play mobile games: MOCAs.
While major challenges exist in digital advertising, Fortune 500 brands are not resting on their laurels. Brands like P&G and Diageo are speaking out, voting with their wallets, demanding 100% fraud-free and brand-safe inventory, and developing internal capabilities to improve the plight of the industry for all stakeholders.