If you read my previous article, Problematic Programmatic Media Buying, you know that 63% of total digital display advertising, or $12.6 billion dollars of banner ads, will be purchased programmatically (meaning real-time, machine-based purchases) by 2016. And furthermore, that there is currently a substantial amount of digital ad fraud, which means companies are paying for digital media fraught with ad fraud. This is an incredibly important issue in which no one seems to have a good answer--not the Internet Advertising Bauru (IAB), not the Publishers, nor the Brands paying for fraudulent inventory.

Adobe Uses Humor to Address This Serious Issue Sometimes, the only way to bring a serious issue to light is to inject humor into the mix. What Adobe does brilliantly is poke fun at an incredibly important issue so that the industry doesn't turn a blind eye to what's going on.

In a video that is my personal favorite, Just Say No to Buying Clicks, Adobe parallels deliberate click fraud buying with a modern day drug bust. The spoof is funny and painfully accurate. The fraudulent digital media seller tells the desperate CMO, "I've got some choice clicks, here, yo. Impressions, page views, followers ..." to which the desperate CMO asks, "Are they pure?" Insulted, the fraudulent digital media seller retorts, "Man, I don't cut with bots!"

Anyone who's struggled with digital ad fraud knows how outlandish this exchange is and yet there is this overwhelming sense of truth behind it all. Adobe's goal in this video is to raise awareness of just how troubling digital ad fraud is and asks the question, "Do you know what your marketing is doing? We can help." With a resolve to Adobe's Marketing Cloud as the answer to better visibility and transparency.

Raising Awareness & Taking A Corrective Course While Adobe received about 200k views of this one spot, this video was part of a larger campaign in which Click, Baby, Click received over 4 million views--not bad for a Business to Business (B2B) marketing campaign.

I have to thank my friends at NASCAR for sharing this campaign with me. Although I spend much of time in this industry, it's easy to miss out on these campaigns if your profile doesn't match the exact target that Adobe was going for.

The more important question we still need to ask, however, is "Where do we go from here?"

Some industry experts point out that even with all of the known digital ad fraud issues, marketers are still better off leveraging digital media to deliver measurable return on investment (ROI) for their campaigns. In my previous article Digital Ad Fraud: Why It Matters (And Why It Doesn't), we explore this unique perspective which essentially boils down to "even with all the digital ad fraud, if you can optimize your campaigns to deliver more revenue than what you're investing in media, you can still achieve a positive ROI." Which is true and probably explains (at least in part) why more of my colleagues are not demanding wholesale changes in the digital media ad buying space today.

The Day of Reckoning Is Coming for Digital Media What is important to note, however, is that even if the industry can currently justify what's going on here, it doesn't mean the problem has been solved. To be clear, digital ad fraud is still a massive problem and is only growing. As companies invest more of their media dollars into digital, greater transparency and greater accountability is being demanded. No one disputes that digital ad fraud is a (growing) problem. But until the ad industry, publishers and brands choose to be held accountable for the problem, the proverbial can is systematically being kicked down the road.

Eventually, however, there will be a day of reckoning and it will likely happen during a digital ad Upfront (this is when large blocks of digital media are sold via top-tier publishers and digital ad networks). When the largest brands and/or their digital agency partners responsible for digital media buying choose to force this issue out into open, additional steps will finally be taken to substantially reduce digital ad fraud. Until then, I appreciate companies like Adobe using humor to keep this important issue top of mind.

Published on: May 6, 2015
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