It Isn’t Working

The huge fake audience…


Digital pundits have been declaring the end of broadcast media, both TV and Radio, for a long time, but their voices have been especially loud since the arrival of Google, and search ads.

The idea that companies could see exactly who is interested enough in them to seek them out, and then focus even tighter to those offers and ads which generated traffic and purchase clicks is very enticing.

And almost a total lie.

That lie led to the current hot trend: Programmatic advertising.

The ideal programmatic transaction works like this: A user clicks on a website and suddenly her Internet address and browsing history are packaged and whisked off to an auction site, where software, on behalf of advertisers, scrutinizes her profile (or an anonymized version of it) and determines whether to bid to place an ad next to that article.”

But wait…there’s more:

Digital’s return on investment was around 2 to 1, a $2 increase in revenue for every $1 of ad spending, compared with at least 6 to 1 for TV.”

This was the show-stopper:

“The most startling finding: Only 20 percent of the campaign’s “ad impressions”—ads that appear on a computer or smartphone screen—were even seen by actual people.”

“…we were paying for eyeballs and thought that we were buying views. But in the digital world, you’re just paying for the ad to be served, and there’s no guarantee who will see it, or whether a human will see it at all.”

I’m not talking about ad-blocking, which is a totally different issue for another post.

I’m telling you that, increasingly, online ad-viewers are not human.

A study done last year in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers embedded billions of digital ads with code designed to determine who or what was seeing them.”

“Eleven percent of display ads and almost a quarter of video ads were “viewed” by software, not people.”

“According to the ANA study, which was conducted by the security firm White Ops and is titled The Bot Baseline: Fraud In Digital Advertising, fake traffic will cost advertisers $6.3 billion [≈ Suez Canal annual receipts] this year.”

One ad tracked in the study was a video spot for Chrysler that ran last year on, a site based on the food and travel lifestyle magazine.”

“Only 2 percent of the ad views registered as human, according to a person who was briefed on data provided to the study’s participants. Chrysler, which doesn‘t dispute the data, ceased buying ads on the site once it became aware of the “fraudulent activity…

Every person on your sales team should have access to this study.

Every local client you care about should have access to this study.

This is a HUGE advantage for local broadcast radio, and we should shout about it every single day.

Radio may (and does) have real problems with audience measurement, but not compared to online ‘views.’

Fake traffic has become a commodity. There’s malware for generating it and brokers who sell it. It’s given rise to an industry of countermeasures, which inspire counter-countermeasures.”

Consumers, meanwhile, to the extent they pay attention to targeted ads at all, hate them: The top paid iPhone app on Apple’s App Store is an ad blocker.

All of these quotes are taken from a fascinating article on Bloomberg Business, which you can read HERE.