A Digital Resolution for 2014: Break Bad Habits in Ad Tech

shutterstock-146486498The start of a new year is a time to pause, relax, enjoy time with family and take stock of past accomplishments along with hopes for the future. The New Year’s resolution is an age old tradition and one that the ad tech industry would do well to take seriously.

On the positive side, 2013 saw the release of many new products, the launch of new companies and a few major IPOs, such as Twitter, Tremor Video, Criteo, YuMe, and Rocket Fuel. There was some bad news too — companies gone belly up, products shattered — but worst of all, the ad tech industry formed some bad habits and developed a tolerance for behavior that is destructive to the entire ecosystem.

The prevalence of digital ad bots is getting out of control. Publishers buy cheap traffic to inflate their numbers, while exchanges have turned a blind eye to high traffic or re-trafficked sites. The minority of authentic bot-free sites are incorrectly deemed to have less scale and marginal value. We read about these issues and discuss them ad nauseum. And yet, there seems to be no end in sight.

You know what I’m talking about… click fraud, content farms forcing traffic from one dead end URL to another, pages littered with ads or, even worse, ads hidden in frames. These are practices that we can no longer tolerate. Brands are looking to publishers to help them find and engage audiences in real, clean, well-lit environments. If publishers can’t deliver on this, we risk brands leaving the web behind and finding new ways to engage with consumers and prospects.

I’m looking forward to a 2014 where publishers commit to balancing the needs of advertisers and consumers with that of their own profitability; where advertisers and agencies take a zero tolerance stance on illegitimate inventory and overloaded page experiences to put the consumer first; where bloated pages, fraudulent traffic and overly aggressive marketing tactics are a thing of the past.

In 2014, innovative creative units and native advertising are poised to pump new energy and investment into digital advertising. They will add barriers for publishers generating false traffic and deceiving buyers. “Genuine” inventory has additional contextual quality since it focuses on real people, which therefore increases the true value of media.

Let’s come together around a shared set of resolutions:

  • Ensure all ad placements are above fold, near fold, not stacked and are of standard sizes 
  • Enable larger, more engaging creative units that are customer initiated
  • Deploy products that provide viewability metrics to advertisers on the efficacy of the creative (and placements) 
  • Minimize traffic buying from unknown or suspicious providers/networks where the deals sound too good to be true (eg. $0.01 per click)

In short, let’s commit to providing honest, clean and high impact online advertising for all.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year!

Title image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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