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Too Much Fraud

October 15, 2019

I ran across an interesting Q&A in Ad Age. It was with Augustine Fou, a former marketer turned ad fraud researcher. Here is his money quote in response to how much fraud there is in digital advertising: “Between one percent and 100 percent. There are no zero percent fraud campaigns …”

Anyone who has done any level of digital advertising knows that it is a bit of the wild west out there. Ads can be loaded in the background or off screen or below the fold yet still count as an impression. Bot farms click away on banner ads (when was the last time you intentionally clicked on one?).

Yet, the amount of dollars spent on digital marketing continues to rise – almost exponentially.

I’m not saying digital advertising is a bad thing. When conducted properly, with clearly established goals and diligent oversight, it can move the needle. However, of and by itself, digital advertising is not a panacea. As the article points out, both Procter & Gamble and Chase dramatically cut back on their digital ad spend and saw no change in their business outcomes.

Which brings me to radio. We have been playing defense against digital for too long. It really is time to fight back. Why? A few reasons:

  • Our ads run! We even back that up with proof.
  • Real live human beings actually hear them.
  • Radio ads work. When properly constructed (with an effective campaign) they can move the business needle. Ask any client who ran a good “call to action” what the results were. My guess is they continued to buy the station.
  • Radio is the best partner for digital. Radio can – and does – drive search traffic. I have seen Google analytics that show a jump in web traffic during and after effectively run radio campaigns.
    I’m not saying businesses should abandon digital and put all their spend into radio. What I am saying is radio needs to do a better job of marketing. We need to show advertisers how a mixed media campaign can be the most effective use of their budget. Radio needs to be a part of the mix.

I know, common lore dictates that anyone under the age of 40 never listens to radio. They are too busy staring at their screens. The data we see suggests otherwise.

Yes, younger demos listen to less radio than older ones. We see that in market after market. However, to say that the 18-34 demo listens to no radio is fake news. They may not be as passionate about the medium as older folks are, but they still listen. And they still hear the ads.

Yes, some of radio is wasted either by geography or demography. But, the next time you meet with a client, ask them how much of their digital ad spend is lost to fraud.

No advertising medium is perfect. That is why a good marketing mix is the best solution for most client needs. It is up to us to make sure radio is part of that mix.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant