Transparency: Marketing’s New Currency – Part II

Last week, we looked at some of the current issues around advertising in part I of our two part series on transparency. This week, we examine why these issues must matter to agencies and advertisers and what needs to change in order to restore consumer trust.

Why are these issues a big deal?

In the case of inconsistent metrics, it’s is a problem because it could potentially impact revenue: video viewing times were used to determine how much money was allotted to video spend in with Facebook vs other video channels such as YouTube, or even TV ads. This also impacted the types of content shown to viewers. If the metrics are giving brands the wrong information about viewing audiences, then in turn, they are delivering the wrong video content and ultimately, wasting ad spend. While some marketers said the initial damage by the Facebook metrics snafu was negligible, the latest blunder where Facebook underreported the amount of traffic coming in was serious enough to merit concern with some major brands like Buzzfeed and the Washington Post who saw up to 20% as diminished traffic reporting.

Facebook marketing strategist, Jon Loomer, pinpoints the main issue with this: “On one hand we expect the numbers to be accurate, we need the numbers to be accurate. And Facebook, for the sake of perception and trustworthiness, needs the numbers to be accurate.”

Accuracy and trust are integral to any brand. While Facebook has received the brunt of the fallout from this, it isn’t just a problem with Facebook; the issue goes well beyond them. Even if marketers are unsure of where they sit in terms of the damage caused by the Facebook reporting scandal (or non-scandal), the issue remains two-fold: 1.) that companies like Facebook are viewed as operating from within a “walled garden”, a closed system with little to no objective scrutiny, 2.) With no reliable third party measurements in place across the board, it means a serious loss of trust, and that in the long run, is the biggest issue for advertisers going forward.

Fight Against Fraud

While the fight against fraud has intensified, according to eMarketer, ad fraud costs advertisers billions every year in lost revenue, to the tune of $7.2 billion in 2016, according to Ad Age. In spite of this staggering amount, many agencies display a rather ambivalent attitude when it comes to ad fraud. There is a persistent idea that it just comes with the territory, it’s just part of the cost of doing business. There is also the belief that ad fraud will never be fully eradicated because, for all its losses, it is too lucrative to abandon entirely. Ad fraud measurements haven’t been standardised, allowing agencies to pick and choose what anti-fraud companies will make their practices look best. Even fraud detection companies don’t want to combat fraud too effectively because they would essentially put themselves out of business. Fraudsters, ad agencies, and fraud-detectors are all making money, so while the complaints fly, there is still an understanding that this may never be fully eradicated. This puts marketers in a difficult position (going back to transparency) because this sort of activity is anything but transparent.

What Needs to Change?

In July, The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released recommendations that advised brands to create a Chief Media Officer role within their organisations to facilitate better transparency between advertisers and consumers. It also included a series of guidelines to combat the unethical practices that have been plaguing the industry.

In terms of ad-fraud, agencies can also use third-party verification to ensure objective authentication that what the client has paid for will land on a credible page to prevent their ads from being shown alongside undesirable content. Third party ad verification also helps prevent any bidding on these types of auctions. Some DSPs also have built in technology to automatically detect and block bot traffic.

Citing Google’s inability to ensure ad safety as an unacceptable risk, several large companies pull ads from the platform last week. After large brands like Lloyd’s, McDonald’s and the UK government have dropped them, Google were quick to release a statement apologizing the oversight and laying out a step-by-step plan to combat the issue and ensure brand safety. Concerns were raised after ads landed on pages associated with terrorist activities. Until Google can assure brands that their ads won’t land on dangerous sites, brands will take their money elsewhere, leaving a dent in the advertsing platform’s revenue.

This signals a major shift in the industry – brands are no longer willing to put up with excuses from agencies and marketers. Expectations are higher, as is the demand for action and transparency.  If Google can be affected by such a large scale revolt, complacency and lack of transparency will invariably negatively impact smaller agencies that can’t account for their client’s ad whereabouts. Advertisers need to take their cues from Google and make similar changes in order to keep up with these new industry requirements.

 

 

Transparency: Marketing’s New Currency – Part I

In part I of our two part series on transparency in advertising, we look at the recent demand for transparency from brands and consumers, who is affected, and what needs to be addressed.

The term ‘transparency’ has been bandied about the advertising industry for years but will take on exceptional importance in 2017. After a dismal year plagued by fake news, fake news ads, algorithm blunders, improper metrics attribution, security breaches, and an unwillingness to quickly act on hate speech, marketers will feel the backlash from disillusioned consumers fed up with murky tactics and feeble apologies.

Advertisers are more concerned than ever with where their ads land with regards to ad fraud, viewability, and brand alignment, i.e., is this the image we want associated with our brand? We’ve seen large brands begin to take action as public opinion has forced their hand. The threat of financial loss has finally caused brands to mobilise and do something about transparency, or risk losing future business.

Who is Affected?

In short, everyone. Politicians were not the only casualties in 2016’s trust fallout, social media brands, agencies, and marketers were also caught in the fray, and will continue to pay the price for missteps in the coming year.

Brands were recently taken to task for (unwittingly) appearing on sites that are deemed controversial for their political views. Advertisers are being asked to be aware of their social and political footprint, to be accountable for where their ad dollars land, and for stepping up and admitting any wrongdoing. Brands that don’t comply are swiftly, and publicly denounced. The Twitter account,  Sleeping Giants, names, shames, and call outs brands for appearing on hate sites and right wing publications such as Breitbart.  Sleeping Giants’ campaign has witnessed unparalleled support as consumers quickly jump behind their initiative and boycott brands that show ads on these sites.

Even as brands cry foul and claim surprise that their ads have landed on such sites, saying ‘we didn’t know!’ is no longer an acceptable excuse.  Advertisers are expected to know where the company logo lands.  Consumers have moved beyond just being happy with ‘great low prices’ and ‘excellent customer service’. Shoppers have higher expectations and want to feel good about where they spend their hard earned cash. They want to be assured that they aren’t supporting a potentially harmful organization that runs contrary to their political beliefs.

In early February, Procter & Gamble rolled out a transparency charter, adopted MRC standards to implement third party verification, and created ‘transparency contracts’ with its suppliers. If suppliers don’t conform to P&G’s new policies, they simply won’t do business with them. The announcement sent shock waves through the industry, but also saw many other brands immediately follow suit.

More recently, large brands like Lloyd’s, McDonald’s, the Guardian, and the UK government have pulled their advertising from Google amid concerns of their ads showing up beside terrorist content. Brand safety is now top priority and the reprecussions for inaction are swift and severe. These aren’t small companies, they are major players that will impact Google’s reputation and revenue.

But is this really surprising? It is no coincidence that this has occurred alongside public outcry over corporate accountability. With grassroots campaigns like the one initiated by Sleeping Giants, companies can no longer hope to sweep social and political issues under the rug. Their feet are being held to the fire ,and announcements like P&Gs, no longer seem ‘revolutionary’ but more ‘reactionary’, in a climate where if brands do nothing, they can watch their revenues fall as consumer vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.

Fake News

Fake news has not only plagued social media and Google search, but has been a bane to brands and advertisers as well. In addition to landing on hate and extremist websites, brands have seen their ads land on dubious “news” sites. There is an industry wide crisis now with fake news generators selling ads on fake news sites via programmatic. According to The Drum, marketers aren’t always sure that ads won’t end up on these pages, ‘due to the automated nature of programmatic’.  The problem is also that controversial sites, like Breitbart,  are part of the Google Display Network. Even more problematic, according to Marketingland, is that ‘Google has no publisher policy against sites running fake news stories’. Although Google claims to be combating fake news, and hate sites, a lack of strong policy indicates this is nothing more than lip service.

Ad Fraud

An attack by Russian hackers in late December 2016 shook advertisers across the globe. The hackers made between $3-5 million USD per day with fake clicks on video ads. This was digital ad fraud of an unprecedented scale, by creating fake domains, they managed to trick  algorithms into displaying their most lucrative ads on these dummy domains instead of legitimate websites. Bots were deployed to click on these ads and supposedly “watched” 300 million video ads per day. What is disconcerting is that this ploy was so well thought out that they managed to bypass traditional anti-fraud detection measures, causing massive losses for advertisers.

Fake Metrics

Another pressing issue that rattled brands and advertisers was the revelation of the fake metrics scandal that rocked Facebook from September to December 2016. The social media giant came clean about incorrectly reported video metrics that miscalculated viewing times by counting views of only three seconds, thereby skewing reporting by as much as 60-80% according to Publicis.  Then, between September and December, another three blunders surfaced, leaving publishers and advertisers questioning the veracity of claims being made by Facebook, and platforms like it.

Stay tuned for Part II of our series on Transparency soon…

NMPi Short Listed for 3 European Search Awards

Now entering its sixth year, the European Search Awards highlight the very best in SEO, PPC and Content Marketing across Europe. NMPi is thrilled to have been shortlisted in three of the 29 categories:

Innovation – Campaign
The innovation award recognizes the creative effort within a search campaign demonstrating the use of strategy, or implementation that sets it apart from the competition. NMPi has been recognized for their work on Dune Query Level Bidding on Google Shopping.

Best Use of Search – Retail
This award recognizes a campaign that has successfully enhanced the visibility of a website or web page in the retail sector. NMPi have been commended for their campaign efforts on Dune Query Level Bidding on Google Shopping.

Best Large PPC Agency
An exciting achievement this year has been the the recognition as Best Large PPC Agency across Europe. This is awarded to an agency that demonstrates consistently strong ROI for their clients, and excellent use of PPC.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on April 27th in Kraków, Poland.

Best of Luck!

5 Minutes, 5 Questions, All Digital with Craig Brown

Current Occupation?
Account Director

Favourite thing about digital marketing?
The sheer amount of data that is available and the speed at which learnings can be made! This means that digital marketing is starting to shape full marketing strategies rather than being a bolt on.

Favourite aspect of your job?
The variety. No day is ever the same, which keeps it fresh. It can be difficult at times because there’s always something that I’m never quite sure how to do, but that’s part of the fun.

Why did you choose NMPi?
I didn’t know what PPC was before I started here! But I chose NMPi based on the feel of the office while I was here interviewing. I chose the company rather than the job!

What projects are you working on now?
Working with Hellocar as a start-up, who want to disrupt the car buying sector by creating an eCommerce site where people can buy the car online without seeing it. Helping them define their brand, target market,08 and place within the industry is really exciting.

Want to know more about an exciting career in PPC? Watch this video

5 Minutes, 5 Questions, All Digital with Alex Haynes

Current Occupation?
Partnerships Manager

Favourite thing about digital marketing?
The constant innovations in adtech that are occuring as a direct result of changing consumer behaviours, particularly around targeting capabilities.

Favourite aspect of your job?
The variety of projects that I have the chance to work on, along with the knowledge that I’m having a direct impact on the performance of my business.

Why did you choose NMPi?
NMPi gave me the chance to make a difference, and to challenge myself in an environment where you’re given responsibilities from very early on.

What projects are you working on now?
Expansion into the US, with the ultimate goal of opening up a US office.
European partner engagement, to ensure our growth continues across Europe too.
Lastly, integration of our new products/services into our existing proposition to ensure our capabilities as an agency are fully communicated.

Want to work in Business Development? Learn more here

NMPi Continues to Grow in Benelux: Appointing New Managing Director, Gerard Moussault

We are extremely pleased to announce that Gerard Moussault will be joining the NMPi team as Managing Director Benelux. In his new role, he will grow NMPi’s digital agency brand in the Benelux market. Gerard takes over the role from Pieter Slingerland who will now focus on DQ&A.

Gerard Moussault will be bringing with him over 15 years experience in the online world. Previously he was responsible for Online Media, and Strategy and Development at Sanoma, VNU Media, and eBay. In 2012, Moussault joined IPG Media Brands in the position of Managing Director Cadreon, a branch responsible for programmatic solutions, where he grew the brand quickly.

“After five years of working with a lot of fun people at IPG Media Brands, I am very excited for this new step. There was a direct match in expectation and ambition. This function gives me a great opportunity to grow and distinguish NMPI.”

“We’re pleased to welcome Gerard to the NMPi team,” commented Luke Judge, Managing Director of NMPi. “It’s exciting to see just how far we have come in only four months since launching NMPi in Benelux. Gerard’s leadership will be an asset to NMPi and we look forward to building the future of NMPi Benelux with his guidance.”

#5MinuteDigital: 5 Minutes, 5 Questions, All Digital with Alice Malthouse

Current Occupation?
Senior Programmatic Account Executive

Favourite thing about digital marketing?
It’s great how fast-paced the industry is, things change really quickly!

Favourite aspect of your job?
I love finding out about all the new and exciting technology that has come to market that we can use in our campaigns.I also love telling my clients all about the new and exciting features they can use in their campaigns.

Why did you choose NMPi?
Everyone was really friendly and they were passionate about the industry.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m getting up to speed with a range of social platforms and then I’m off to a DoubleClick event to represent the company in Dublin!

Want to know more about Programmatic at NMPi? Watch this video

To find out more about joining the NMPi team, check out our careers page!

NMPi Shortlisted for 3 Awards!

The Performance marketing Awards Shortlist has been revealed and we’re delighted to announce that that along with our Rising Star nomination for Anna Jorysz, we have been selected for two Performance Marketing Awards: Industry Choice Publisher and Most Creative Performance Campaign.

The 11th annual awards show will be held at the Grosvenor Hotel on April 25th, highlighting the best and brightest in performance marketing across 24 categories, with a special focus on innovation and industry achievements.

With the shortlist finally released, the industry can now cast their votes for Industry Choice of Partner, as well as continue to vote for this year’s Rising Star.

View the shortlist here

Industry-Choice-of-Publisher