Global advertising is worth $438bn. That is a massive sum of money and as media becomes more digital, it is only going to increase. With such a huge amount of money at stake, you would think every penny would be accounted for in great detail. But that is not the case at the moment.
As we know, once the initial rounds of advertising takes place, the content then goes out into the ether. Up until recently, these adverts were lost in the great expanse of the internet. Yet as long as the number of views and impressions were in line with what was expected, not too many people have been worried about these finer details.
However, inevitably the money men are going to want some clarity on where advertising spend is going. Results are all well and good, but in an era of Sarbanes Oxley, transparency has never been more important for big corporates. Yet what they will find may well alarm them more than not knowing at all.
In just over the year that we have been running commercially in the UK, we have found around three to four per cent of adverts we monitor are appearing on client-defined inappropriate sites, like peer-to-peer sites offering illegal content. When you extrapolate that figure with the number of adverts that are served monthly, then you are looking at hundreds of millions of adverts appearing on sites that offer zero value.
Worse still, we have documented millions of adverts appearing on sites which support criminality. Up until recently advertisers could legitimately say this was a consequence of the system and there was little they could do to prevent this from occurring. That is now no longer the case with ABC certifying a number of products which offer content verification, helping to stop adverts appearing on inappropriate sites.
With these solutions in place, the vast void of online advertising has had a light shone upon it, highlighting how often these adverts appear in the dark recesses of the internet, and pinpointing where campaigns are failing to deliver value for money. With a greater ability to track and analyse advertising campaigns, practices and methods will need to change to reflect a more scientific and accurate approach. By doing so, it will lead to a safer industry, more confident brands willing to part with online advertising funds, and prevent brands tacitly supporting criminality.