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Digital advertising spending has increased dramatically in recent years. But as a result of the pandemic, it has also shifted to fast-growing media channels — like CTV and emerging social platforms. EMarketer (subscription required) predicts that $239.9 billion will be spent on digital advertising in 2022, up 13.6% from 2021. However, at this level of spending, marketers now face a multi-billion dollar problem when it comes to determining media quality – how can they avoid substandard placements where impressions may never be seen by a human?
Meanwhile, evolving privacy laws, coupled with the rejection of third-party cookies in popular browsers, are reducing the effectiveness of cookie-based targeting techniques. It also leads marketers to look for new strategies that can support their goals and engage with their respective audiences. Marketers need to double down on protecting their digital dollars from fraud and other media waste while prioritizing effective, quality impressions.
Here are three ways marketers can optimize campaign ad spend:
A fraud reality check for ad spend
Digital ads served to invalid traffic such as bots will have no effect. They never reach their intended audience. If you’re wondering why ad fraud issues make marketers nervous, let’s put a price tag on this problem. Juniper Research estimates that advertisers will lose about $100 billion in ad spend annually to ad fraud such as bot traffic through 2023 — up from about $42 billion in 2019.
By leaving this option disabled, marketers who don’t have an anti-fraud strategy in place can lose significant budgets and waste impressions just on invalid traffic. If these invalid clicks aren’t caught early and often, advertisers will continue to make bad decisions based on bad data. Bad traffic drains money from campaigns and creates actionable insights that aren’t based on real metrics.
Step one is using data analytics platforms to spot fraudulent patterns while ensuring ads are being seen by real people.
The context effect
While ad fraud is an obvious source of media and budget waste, it’s not the only one. Opportunity costs are incurred when ads appear in contexts that don’t produce intended campaign results. These ads could have been placed more effectively in the right, higher-performing context. But not all contexts are created equal to resonate with your audience.
Just focusing on reaching the right audience may not be enough to make your campaign successful. Targeting profitable segments and personalizing their message is key to gaining a more nuanced understanding of consumers and knowing the right moment to target them. Contextual advertising offers a powerful way to connect with consumers and provide a clearer insight into their mindset at any given moment.
Here is an example of how this works. Let’s say you enjoy a beer from time to time. You may be receptive to an alcoholic beverage brand ad when browsing restaurant or lifestyle content. But you’re less receptive when you’re in a professional mindset, such as reading content on LinkedIn or a business journal. You’re still the same person, but the context changes your receptivity to the ad.
Using the right data to successfully identify contextual consumer habits and inclinations, and then optimizing your ads for the context can have a dramatic impact on campaign results.
One way advertisers can start with this step is to understand what kind of targeting options are already available in their current DSP. With that in mind, consider doing a benchmark test between contextual targeting segments versus traditional audience targeting. This can provide invaluable insight into the possibilities of contextual targeting and optimization, and the great benefits this can have for KPIs.
Protect emerging media
Television is no longer just something that lives in the box in your living room. Consumers have shifted their viewing habits to streaming video on connected television (CTV) devices during the pandemic. This accelerated consumption has continued even as the world moves beyond the early stages of the pandemic.
According to eMarketer, for the first time in 2022, CTV will account for more than one-fifth of total programmatic video ad spend and one-tenth of total programmatic digital ads. However, as marketers are shifting their spend to new media based on consumer trends, so are scammers. Where CPMs are high, there is a greater advantage for scammers. Many believe they can get ahead of the technology preventing them.
Changing media consumption habits coupled with marketers preparing for a post-cookie world is the perfect storm and now is the right time to restart. Marketers have an opportunity to prepare for the future and find different ways to reach their intended audiences. The key is to develop your strategy for an environment that puts privacy first, while minimizing media waste and reaching real people in the contextual settings where they are most receptive. Data is the crystal ball for delivering relevant messages at the right time through the right channels.
With the right preparation and focus on media quality, marketers have a very real chance to reclaim billions from lost ad impressions and dollars to connect with their audience and make every impression count.
Tony Marlow is CMO of Integral Ad Science.
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