Good news: your ads are getting lots of views. Bad news: robots are watching them

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports some interesting statistics on video ad viewership. And by “interesting” I mean “holy $#@t.”  Apparently companies will go to very great lengths to convince advertisers that their ads are being seen. But many of the views are on sites such as (and you can’t make this stuff up) USFunVideos.com, a company that displays ads smaller than a needlepoint, hence invisible. That’s one of the better case scenarios. Another bit of data eye-candy comes from audience research firm ComScore, who found that 36% of online ad views are generated by nonhumans (i.e. bots, i.e. robots/machines/ i.e not your customers).

robby[1]So, in my post today, I’m going to break down the Wall Street Journal’s “Moving Targets” sample scenario of online fraud, and provide a content marketing alternative from Captains of Industry.

TRADITIONAL AD AGENCY APPROACH

  1. Car brand X asks its ad agency to place an online video spot targeted to men aged 25-54 who are likely World Cup fans.
  2. The agency often goes to an ad network, which in turn sells ads across the web.
  3. If the network doesn’t think it can reach enough World Cup fans, it may turn to an ad exchange to find more ad space for the video campaigns.
  4. Fraudsters can exploit this system by setting up bogus sites who’s fake viewers look attractive to Car Brand X.

CONTENT MARKETING APPROACH.

  1. Car brand X asks a content marketing agency to build engagement with men aged 25-54 who are likely World Cup fans.
  2. A good content agency will first look at what kind of meaningful, valuable, educational and entertaining web content will appeal to car buyers aged 25-54 who are likely World cup fans. What content would these people seek out, and then share?
  3. The agency develops a strategy for not only the kind of content to be used (i.e. video, podcasts, etc), but what the most effective platform should be for the content (new website, or existing social media platforms such as YouTube, for example)
  4. In tandem, the agency develops a distribution strategy for the content. This may include a publishing calendar, with different kinds of content deployed over time on different platforms and with different forms of social media outreach.
  5. The agency develops a creative concept from the strategy. If the research uncovers that male world cup soccer fans are hungry for information on a particular kind of car, and wary of superficial glitz, the agency might then create a series of entertaining but educational videos about the car, all hosted by a soccer celebrity.
  6. The web video series is then deployed on the kind of platform the strategy has determined will allow the video to be seen by the largest number of potential customers. Not videos that interrupt these people, mind you. These would be videos that the customer would seek out because THEY WANT TO SEE THEM. Because the videos are genuinely interesting, with a depth of information that helps the customer understand the features and benefits of this car – with the story tailored from a soccer fan’s perspective. The trunk space, for example, could be measured not in cubic feet, but by how many soccer balls and other gear it can hold.
  7. Social media is used to get the world out, including targeted outreach to soccer blogs frequented by men aged 25-54.
  8. Success is measured not just by views but by the number of people – actual people – who click through to request more information on the cars being showcased by our soccer star.

The result is that FEWER views may be recorded, but the quality of those interactions will be far greater, with actions and influence measured on a human scale. And here’s the kicker: If large advertisers took half the cost of the 36% of their media spend wasted on views by robots, they could fund a Captains content marketing campaign start to finish.

To quote the HAL 9000 computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey, “Dave, I really think we should talk about this.”