Fake News, Ad Fraud Could Have Advertisers Pulling Dollars Out of Digital
Ad quality issues, such as fraud and viewability, have been the plight of the digital advertising industry for some time. But the 2016 US presidential election cycle unearthed another threat to quality: fake news. Marc Goldberg, CEO of publisher verification firm Trust Metrics, spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher about how he expects advertisers will modify their ad spending and strategy in 2017 as a result of these challenges.
eMarketer: How will advertisers’ investment in digital display advertising change in 2017?
Marc Goldberg: The election cycle added a lot of additional traffic in 2016. Some of that was due to fake news, and some was due to interest in the political conversation. Given that, 2017 will be a bit of an adjustment year. Less inventory will be available, which will impact spending and rates.
The election cycle opened brands’ eyes to safety concerns such as fake news and hate. Add to that brand safety, bots and advertisers wanting to use more protection as they buy, [and that] will lower last year’s surplus of inventory to a more realistic pool of inventory for advertisers.
If advertisers are not willing to increase rates to secure quality inventory, they will miss out on the digital opportunity and, as a result, have to start shifting some budgets around.
“If advertisers are not willing to increase rates to secure quality inventory, they will miss out on the digital opportunity.”
eMarketer: Where will those budgets go?
Goldberg: It’s possible that we’ll see digital budgets shift back into other mediums for a short period if we can’t fix the things that are wrong with digital.
eMarketer: What channels will benefit from this?
Goldberg: Audio may do a little better, as well as outdoor. Digital outdoor is new and unique, and there could be additional benefits with all of the new connected devices out there. Ultimately, I think dollars will move into TV and over-the-top. TV is still a great medium, and it will grab back some of its losses due to digital’s inability to deliver on its promises.
eMarketer: What other frustrations do advertisers have with digital?
Goldberg: Advertisers are fed up with what’s going on in programmatic, and they’re fed up with Facebook and Twitter for being misleading with their metrics. They’re fed up with fake news. A lot of agencies are having to pitch or repitch business. Relationships have soured over the last 18 months because of the lack of transparency and the inability to do digital right. Agency relationships have changed, and anyone pitching new business must address issues like quality, nonhuman traffic and viewability.
“Relationships have soured over the last 18 months because of the lack of transparency and the inability to do digital right.”
eMarketer: Trust Metrics uses the whitelist approach to fight issues of ad quality. Do a lot of advertisers want to take this more aggressive approach to filtering for ad quality, vs. blacklists that block ads on sites known to be offenders?
Goldberg: Yes, we are seeing more people care about whitelists. It’s helpful for anyone jumping into programmatic for the first time, like pharmaceutical firms. Whitelists are also coming into people’s heads more now that they need to protect themselves against things like fake news.
These types of placements aren’t what advertisers intended when they put their money into programmatic. They don’t want to be on sites that were built purely to gain by having 77 ads and bucking viewability numbers. People are realizing that a blacklist system still allows criminals to make money, and they don’t want to be a part of it.