In-app advertising is at a crossroads. Ad fraud is reportedly at a record high. New buying technologies like programmatic are coming under fire. Brands are worried about their ads appearing next to objectionable or sensitive content. Consumers are increasingly worried about their data, and government agencies are cracking down.
So where does all this leave the industry? For those that have always had a commitment to honest and trustworthy advertising, it means doubling down on the long-standing practices that do right by publishers, advertisers and end users.
The mobile ad players committed to the Right Way of doing things focus on these three tenets:
It’s hard to trust what you don’t know. Mobile advertising is far more than just point A (advertisers) and point B (apps/websites). The machinations going on behind the scenes connecting brands with publishers can appear opaque, which sometimes breaks down trust. A December 2017 report from AppsFlyer and Forrester found that 15 percent of digital marketers didn’t know about all of the programmatic players involved in getting their ads displayed.
These transparency issues have especially come to the fore over the past 12 months, with advertisers shocked to find their spots on highly political websites or next to objectionable user-created content. According to the Forrester/AppsFlyer study, 33 percent of mobile marketers said they lacked visibility in where their ads ended up online, especially when buying programmatically. And when it comes to addressing issues of brand safety, more than one in three brand marketers surveyed by Digiday put the onus on agencies and/or vendors.
There’s a reason kids are often afraid of the dark: you don’t trust what you can’t see. A good mobile ad partner always remains transparent with its partners regarding how their processes and technology work, and who else is involved in processes.
Advertisers want to be sure their ads are effectively delivered to the right people, while publishers want to be sure only reputable ads appear on their apps. Unfortunately, this is sometimes much easier said than done.
In particular, rising mobile ad fraud prevents advertisers from trusting the results/metrics they receive from publishers and third-party ad tech partners. Juniper Research, in a September 2017 report, predicted advertisers to lose $19 billion to ad fraud in 2018, the equivalent of $51 million a day. Further, another study from eMarketer found that close to half of respondents worried about fraud specifically within video ad networks.
While the specific concerns surrounding quality in mobile ad-related transactions may be new, worries about fraud in advertising are far from it. As long as there’s a system to exploit, nefarious characters will look to exploit it.
But, instead of shying away from this hard truth, a quality ad tech partner tackles these challenges head-on. Mobile marketers and app publishers must be sure to only work with organizations proactively fighting fraud and ensuring better ad quality. Before signing a contract with a potential partner, check to see if they continue to release products and services designed to improve quality, and if they work closely with reputable independent quality assurance organizations like the Trustworthy Accountability Group.
If a potential partner offered you 5X results, how would you react?
Hopefully, you answered B. Good partners show results with data that is easy to verify and measure. Unfortunately, not every mobile ad player out there today agrees.
"Social networks are notorious for operating as ‘Walled Gardens’ which follow their own rules when it comes to reporting on usage data and makes it very difficult to measure cross platform campaigns that have touchpoints in social,” the Forrester/AppsFlyer report noted. “When visibility is lost, the door is opened for fraudsters to operate in between the cracks of the data as consumers jump from social network to other apps or the app stores."
A good partner not only provides a plethora of data, but also works with trustworthy third parties that can vouch for the accuracy and veracity of the data provided. Verifiable measurements ensure that all sides are on the page and are genuinely committed to transparency and trustworthiness.
Good mobile ad partners are committed to transparency, quality and measurement.