Buying Audience vs. Premium Content: Beware of Magic Beans
Here's a scary statistic for interactive ad buyers from a recent AdSafe Media/comScore study: On 70 percent of the sites analyzed, half of the online ads weren't visible for more than 10 seconds. AdSafe noted that advertisers and agencies have tried to maximize return on investment in the uncertain world of online advertising by just restricting campaigns to "above the fold" ad placement, thinking this will solve the problem. These efforts are often hampered by the dubious quality of the available ad inventory, however.
Many in the online advertising industry have responded to concerns about ROI by claiming that they can through some type of "black-box technology" convert ad placements on substandard inventory into brand equity inventory. This approach is about as convincing as an offer for magic beans. The reality is that where ads appear has a profound impact on how the viewer perceives them, and this is relevant both from a lead generation standpoint and a brand-building perspective.
An ad that appears next to inappropriate content is evaluated in the context of that inventory. Through no design of their own, major brands occasionally appear next to pirated material, lewd videos, hate speech and other dubious content, which means that not only can sales suffer, but consumers can pick up a negative impression of the company and its products or service.
Demand-side platforms and ad exchanges offering 40 cent CPM rates may tell advertisers and agencies that they can generate ROI from substandard inventory or they can safeguard brands via careful placement, but what they don't tell prospects is that ad distribution is an amazingly intricate and complex process. Chances are that big-name brands that are seen juxtaposed with questionable content or poor quality media brands gave specific instructions about ad placement, yet they're taking a hit on ROI and brand value by appearing next to offensive inventory, which also exposes them to a heightened risk of click or impression fraud.