Whether Perpetrated By Bots or By Babies, Click Fraud Is A Crime

Digital advertising will account for 22.7% of all worldwide ad investments this year, or about $117.60 billion — up 13% compared with 2012, according to estimates from eMarketer and Starcom MediaVest Group.

I’m not certain this is a good thing. Unless, brands and their agency partners clearly know what they’re doing with all that money.

I posted this new Adobe commercial from Goodby Silverstein & Partners on my friend Bob Hoffman’s Facebook wall. Hoffman is a champion of common sense and logic in the face of much digital advertising speculation. Recently on his Ad Contrarian site, he pointed to a Solve Media study that claims 46% of the viewership reported by websites seems to be fraudulent. That’s a lot of ghost traffic.

As someone with feet in both the media and marketing worlds, I can say it’s not all that simple to say exactly how many people are visiting your site, where they’re coming from and if they are real people or not. Yes, there are tools aplenty, but tools are biased. How you choose to measure something impacts the data and flavors the results.

If we can’t trust the data, or the people who willfully manipulate it, what or who can we trust in terms of getting value for our ad dollars? We can’t trust the traditional ad guys who are invested in making TV. We can’t trust the digital demigods either. This is not a good situation for the ad business, nor for the clients who need to trust someone to help them reach their communications objectives.

My take is create a media plan that makes sense for your particular business situation. I often drive by a large lot of shiny Airstream campers, and I think here is a company that desperately needs well-made TV to tell the story of weekends in the mountains. Naturally, a client like this would also be well advised to develop its digital assets. Thus, the divide between TV and digital is a false divide. Companies need to spend on both TV and digital and apply the best metrics available to each, while keeping in mind that persuasion is an art.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.