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Mainstream Media Catches Up to Online Ad Fraud

2015 10 21   Peter Feinstein   Online vs Offline Media    

Attention Advertisers: How much of your audience is fake?” That’s the headline for one of the latest cover stories in Bloomberg Businessweek.

I wish I could say that some of magazine’s stats blow my mind, or even come as a surprise, but they don’t. Still, it’s important that mainstream media begin to catch up to what is happening online.

No one buys online media on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, even if that’s how it’s sold. The buy is in ads-served, because online publishers (and everyone in that supply chain) will tell you that an ad served is an impression, even if they camouflage it with media performance-like language.

If you’re contorting your face into a squirm of disbelief, you’re not alone. It gets worse: The percentage of ads served by/to fraudsters (human and ‘bot) ranges from about 18 percent to more than 51 percent, depending upon whom you believe.

Right now, I don’t know whom I can trust for online media placements, programmatic or otherwise; there is so much fraud built-in that it’s all but impossible to create and run a campaign that develops the same return on investment (ROI) as radio, television or even print.