Transparency

Mastering the metrics: stop forcing your ad agency to buy fraud

Mastering the metrics: stop forcing your ad agency to buy fraud

Agencies and marketers are taking the reins of their ad spending and campaign monitoring. But there’s still confusion over which metrics are best to capture a campaign’s performance.

But does it really matter?

The short answer, yes.

Marketers’ choice of KPI’s can actually be having a massive impact on the overall success of a digital campaign.

Often, the benchmarks marketers set can indirectly encourage ad buyers to turn to fraudulent options to try and hit unrealistic targets. Marketers and advertisers soon find themselves trapped in the number-chasing cycle.

mastering the metrics - ad buying cycle

So, how can we break the cycle?

Mastering the metrics: Viewability

Marketers and advertisers need to understand ad metrics and read between the numbers. As Digiday reports, GroupM doesn’t care about the time spent on an ad, but rather the viewability of an ad. Metrics such as viewability rate, fill rate and impression rate can offer detailed information on this. But aiming for an unrealistically high % can pose an array of risks:

  • Pushing for a large number of impressions may compromise the ad’s placement online. mastering the metrics: viewability

  • Ad buyers may turn to ad servers and/or players that take part in malpractice such as:

    • counting an impression before the ad has loaded.

    • rotating multiple ads in a player to count multiple impressions with no ad being properly served.

    • placing an ad on a range of fraudulent websites.

  • Ad buyers may be encouraged to ‘cookie bomb’ a page. This is when lots of cookies are dropped onto a page, trying to convert at least a small percentage.

  • Highly-viewable traffic is not always viewed by humans. Unusually high viewability rates can be an indicator of fraudulent activity.

Transparent Reporting

Marketers, advertisers and publishers need access to impartial campaign performance measurement.

mastering the metrics: transparent reporting

Here at Coull, we recognise the industry’s need for a third party fraud-free “enforcer”. By using an array of fraud detection tools, such as the IAB’s approved cybersecurity service and manual vetting, we’re able to detect sophisticated patterns of fraud. We then work closely with both the publishers and advertisers to relay this information back and (most importantly) take action across our marketplace.

The duopoly, Google and Facebook, have often been accused of having a much less objective approach to reports as some of their ad metrics have yet to be verified by third-parties. Unilever’s Keith Weed has likened this to “marking their own homework”.

Realistic Targets

Marketers and advertisers need to be realistic with their KPI benchmarks. As Venture Beat reports, new video formats such as click-to-play pre-roll, native and out-stream, and video within social content are much more fraud-resistant. However, “ad-buyers continued to expect the high completion rates the overall industry had been promising”.

       mastering the metrics: realistic targets

Many have suggested that the need for a new reporting metric is the real answer to the dilemma. But the reality is, numbers will always be subject to potential manipulation. The responsibility lies with the marketers to tackle digital ad metrics head on, without turning a blind eye to the potential risks. Numbers on fill, viewability and completion on high-quality fraud-free websites are undoubtedly going to be lower than those generated in the realm of bots, dodgy players and fake websites.

Ultimately, elevated completion rates like those projected by both Facebook and Google in recent months are simply unrealistic for in-feed ads. Both marketers and advertisers need to agree that a potential dip in the graph is a small price to pay for real human views on high-quality sites.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment
PubNative – native mobile advertising

PubNative – native mobile advertising

As part of our blog series on mobile advertising, we spoke with Ionut Ciobotaru, Co-founder and Managing Director of PubNative. Ionut tells us more about this native SSP and how native mobile advertising – specifically video, is evolving.

PubNative - native mobile advertising platform

We know mobile is exploding in regards to advertising, especially video. Can you explain what role PubNative plays in mobile advertising?

PubNative is a global mobile supply-side platform (SSP) that’s fully focused on native advertising. We work directly with mobile publishers to understand their needs and provide monetisation solutions.

We have a huge range of demand in order to create good competition within the PubNative marketplace and maximise the eCPMs for our publishers. Our business model is based on a revenue share with publishers, they can receive up to 90% of the revenue generated through our platform.

In terms of video, we’re working on some native and in-feed video ad placements. This is a really interesting area and it’s something we’re working hard on. It’s changing pretty fast but definitely offers an exciting future.

Tell us about the ‘native’ side of the business. How you differentiate native mobile from other mobile ads?

At PubNative, we see native advertising as a framework. Adverts should fit the form of the context (i.e. the UX), but also the content. Through this combination, native ads should actually enhance rather than disrupt the user experience.

Firstly, in terms of UX, the ad should fit in with the app and not look out of place. If we look at Instagram, the native ads fit seamlessly in the feed and therefore don’t interrupt users when scrolling.

Instagram native mobile advertising

Source: PubNative

In terms of context, it’s about delivering relevant adverts according to the user profile. To take the example of Instagram again, they use information about a user – for example, an early 20s woman from San Francisco who follows fashion accounts. With this information, they’re able to use adverts that fit the context of that user’s Instagram feed. For example, with adverts for related fashion products.

How do you best work ads around UX for gaming apps?

This is actually something I covered relatively recently in our blog, looking at several examples of in-game advertising. Overall, the issue is about following the principles of fitting the advert to the content and context of the games. In real terms, this means a consideration of the way a game is built, amongst others.

For example, users are likely to be more to download a similar game when they’ve just completed a level rather than halfway through. By considering factors like this, we can boost UX and improve installs.

What is the biggest challenge for mobile advertisers at the moment?

One of the biggest challenges is educating mobile advertisers. Since mobile native is still new, it’s really important to spread the word to advertisers and publishers. Many marketers like to stick to what they know, so this is about showcasing why native is a future option and illustrating its qualities in comparison to more traditional formats.

To what extent do you think mobile publishers are being affected by ad blocking? How do you approach this problem?

I’d say that mobile is being marginally affected by ad-blocking. There are two cases to consider: mobile in-app, which can’t be blocked so easily so the impact is minimal. And mobile web, where all the ad blockers can function, but its impact is actually pretty limited. In addition, Google recently removed Samsung’s ad-blocking tool, showing the influence of major players in the market.

With movements like the Acceptable Ads Manifesto, the industry is evolving in a way that both advertisers and users can live happily ever after. For those of us working in the native sector, this is about making sure our adverts work with the form and the function.

With this kind of combination, we should increasingly see adverts deliver value to the user and in turn, remove factors that cause the use of ad blocking in the first place.

You have global offices, what is the scale of PubNative and are you seeing any particular trends based on geography?

Our HQ is based in Berlin and we also have offices in San Francisco, Beijing and Seoul to serve all of our major markets. We’re expanding fast and Berlin gives us the ideal location for working between the two time zones.

APAC is one of the fastest growing markets for us. Smartphone penetration is particularly high there and some of the emerging markets are mobile first. Still, because of its maturity, the US remains the highest revenue generating market.

In-app and mobile web are significantly different when it comes to ad serving. Do you service both mobile formats or do you deal purely with apps?

Most of our clients are mobile app publishers, but we also work with mobile web publishers. With so much search being conducted through mobile web, it’s still a significant source of traffic for advertisers.

Mobile web can be seen as falling somewhere between desktop and mobile app. Whilst it often employs resized ad formats used on desktop, it has to be optimised for the smaller screen and provide good UX.

If you work with both is there a particular advantage one has over the other?

It really depends on the user base of mobile web and apps. At the moment, I’d say that there are more native formats for in-app native rather than for the mobile web.

Mobile web is an application of the desktop meaning the content is being consumed in similar ways. Such as using news websites, blogs, portals, etc. This means that native on mobile web is a direct replica of native on desktop, so it follows the IAB Native Advertising Playbook guidelines.

Another factor is simply mobile optimization. Some companies fail to adequately optimize their sites for mobile, and so, ads on these sites are unlikely to provide good UX or ROI for advertisers.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, have specific functionalities, such as games, and the UX is very particular to each function or app. In turn, this means that in-app native advertising has to be much more flexible in terms of format.

Do you encounter any issues with transparency and how do you tackle viewability, brand safety and fraud issues within mobile?

Ad tech is a fast-moving space that has evolved incredibly quickly. So, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone follows best practices and plays by the rules.

The issue of fraud, in particular, has certainly been a topic of conversation lately. In fact, there are a number of different fraudulent activities that have taken place, one of which is the issue of click spamming. We need to come together as an industry to ensure that we reduce the frequency and impact of issues like ad fraud.

As well as fraud, there a number of other issues that affect the industry. In terms of viewability, the MRC has actually just released a paper on the viewability of native ads, so this part is already happening. Increasing transparency on both the publisher and advertiser side would also help tackle issues like fraud.

What is your mobile advertising prediction for 2016? Is this finally the year of mobile (at least when it comes to advertising)?

As the mobile native advertising ecosystem continues to rapidly evolve, 2016 is going to see technology advancements that support an increasing demand for control and transparency.

While mobile advertisers are requesting more guarantees over their native programmatic campaigns (viewability, fraud), mobile publishers are rightfully demanding more transparency in pricing.

In this context, we should inevitably see the emergence of independent, third-party technology solutions – unified platforms. These platforms will aggregate all mobile native demand, enabling publishers to price their inventory and maximise their revenue in a transparent way for advertisers.

About the author:

Ionut Ciobotaru - PubNative, native mobile advertising platform.

Ionut Ciobotaru (Co-founder & Managing Director of PubNative) started his career with a web development company and several technology-related blogs. After years of entrepreneurial work in fields like eCommerce and digital marketing, Ionut sought a new challenge in the mobile space. He joined AppLift where he successfully developed company’s product suite for publishers and media partners. In order to fully focus on improving solutions for mobile publishers, he founded PubNative, a native mobile publisher platform.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

2015 predictions for the Adtech industry

The adtech industry has come a long way this year, with the ‘death of display ads’ a drunken rambling we’d rather take back. Albeit rebranded as ‘native’, display advertising is thriving again – banner ads are everywhere, from your news feeds to your search results, 2014 has seen a resurrection of the format.

Another notable change has been the increase in ad spend through programmatic, with an estimated 137% growth this year (eMarketer) and investment into video advertising at an estimated 59% increase from last year (IAB).

So with that said, it’s been a positive year for us. But what does next year hold? Here’s what I believe the digital advertising industry need to think about for a successful 2015.

  1. Mobile is just another form of digital

2015 will be characterised by the continual increase in, and shifting of, advertising dollars from more traditional media to online. As part of this, the lines between mobile and desktop will continue to blur and marketers will need to view the mobile web for what it is – just another form of digital.

  1. We need more transparency around data

And I don’t say ‘need’ lightly. As the industry consolidates, adtech companies will need to be more honest about where money is being spent and whether it actually delivers value back to advertisers. Those that don’t will get found out.

The industry isn’t doing a great job of policing the use of data, so I think there’s a high possibility of government intervention and regulation within the next year or two as a result. I also strongly suspect that Google will adopt a ‘no-cookie’ policy within the next 18 months, and there will be a lot of pressure on the government to regulate.

  1. Innovation will come from the publisher space

At the moment, I don’t really see a huge amount of innovation among adtech companies. In 2015 I think we’ll see this innovation coming from the publisher space, but not from traditional media companies. We’ve already seen disruptive publishers and distributors such as NDN and Perform that are able to adapt quickly and create new revenue streams through their use of programmatic. These guys are already competing in the top 10 of comScore having come from virtually nowhere.

  1. We need to take the reigns on programmatic

I’m sick of attempts to define programmatic. We’re doing a dreadful job as an industry trying to explain what it is and it’s not helping the education process for media brands. It doesn’t help that there is a lack of best practice case studies out there – publishers should be more comfortable in explaining how they are using these models.

Industry bodies such as the IAB and AOP also need to do more to provide leadership and education within the industry. At the moment we have a situation where programmatic – and it’s definition – is being led by tech vendors rather than the industry as a whole, and that’s skewing the picture in favor of those companies.

  1. Viewability is a dealbreaker

Adtech companies that can use viewability as a metric and therefore provide real measurement and value, will be the ones that are ultimately successful in 2015. As the market matures and the industry becomes more transparent, we will be begin to see the companies that don’t add any real value begin to fail. Their shortcomings will be fatally exposed.

  1. Demand for talent increases

Programmatic has risen so rapidly that it’s difficult to find people with the ready-made skillsets necessary. The biggest challenge we will have, shared by other companies in the industry, is the recruitment of suitable talent. The types of expertise needed for programmatic advertising are completely different to those of traditional advertising. We’re in the market for data scientists and mathematicians rather than copywriters, and there’s a huge battle for that type of talent. We need to convince people with a degree in maths, for example, that there are real career opportunities for them in advertising.

I don’t have a magic ball and I can’t give you any groundbreaking predictions; I think we simply need to do what we’re already doing, but better. A lot better.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment