DoubleVerify’s Imran Masood explores the impact media quality has on a brand’s ROI and reputation if it fails to invest wisely.
It’s no secret brands are navigating a number of challenges in the current digital advertising landscape. Evolving technology, the demise of third-party cookies and dynamic shifts in consumers’ content consumption behaviour are requiring brands to swiftly adapt strategies to effectively engage and reach audiences.
Amid these challenges, media quality continues to be an industry issue that directly impacts ad spend. Campaigns that do not incorporate verification can risk losing up to almost US$450,000 per billion impressions to fraud, viewability and/or brand suitability violations. The increasing number of digital touchpoints, channels and devices means that brands need to be more vigilant than ever to ensure their ads are not appearing adjacent to unsuitable content and that their media investment is not going to waste.
From conversations I regularly have with brands, one notable opportunity lies in education and awareness about the criticality of media quality and the solutions available to enhance it. While it’s natural to focus on what’s most commercially viable, especially in times of economic uncertainty, there is also room for investment in technology that improves the measurement and quality of media buys. It is worth noting that prioritising lower costs may also inadvertently lead to more waste and greater risk in the long term.
An emerging challenge lies in the real-time and ever-evolving nature of content creation, especially as the market introduces and leverages more generative AI tools. As an industry, we need to continue to produce solutions to monitor and classify content at the speed it is being produced to provide brands with the ability to control where and what their brand appears alongside.
The irony is if they don’t invest in the right technology, brands are more at risk of ad fraud and brand suitability violations that not only affect ROI, but can also compromise their reputation.
As an industry, we need to continue to emphasise the value and impact verification has on efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to brands’ media performance.
Tackling ad fraud first and foremost
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) predicts ad fraud will become one of the biggest markets for organised crime by 2025. While protected advertisers in APAC have the lowest post-bid fraud rate across all markets, according to DoubleVerify’s (DV) 2023 ‘Global Insights Report’ (GIR), if brands aren’t protected, ad fraud results in wasted ad spend and skewed performance metrics.
This is a risk brands can’t afford, particularly in the current climate. Brands should not only gain a deeper understanding of ad fraud and its techniques, but they should also work with a third-party verification provider. This partnership offers transparency into the ads brands are running, enabling them to measure and protect their campaigns. It’s essential to invest in quality inventory and impressions, especially on emerging channels like CTV where bot fraud surged by 69 percent globally in 2022 compared to the year prior.
Brands should ensure the web and app publishers with which they are working have adopted ads.txt or app-ads.txt – a method used to indicate who is authorised to sell a publisher’s digital inventory. They should also ensure web and app publishers are either TAG verified – and therefore have taken actionable steps to verify their identities – or have received Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation.
The importance of brand safety and suitability
Brand suitability concerns are also top of mind, as brands that aren’t implementing the right solutions in their media strategy are at risk of appearing aligned with unsafe or unsuitable content.
Focusing solely on content adjacency – the placement of an ad alongside specific content – is only a starting point for determining a safety and suitability strategy. In addition to context, advertisers must also take into account the message conveyed by the ad, the consumer’s perception of the ad, and the brand’s own sensitivities to craft effective and impactful campaigns.
As Australia’s brand suitability violations increased by 49 percent for mobile web alone over the last year according to the 2023 GIR, brand safety and suitability measures should be top of mind for advertisers.
Not integrating the appropriate brand safety and suitability tools has consequences, not only in terms of wasted ad spend, but also for brand reputation and consumer trust.
Finally, it’s important for brands to stay updated on the latest industry developments and collaborate with industry bodies and organisations to ensure that they are compliant with industry standards and best practices. This will help them stay ahead of the curve and be proactive in protecting campaigns against ad fraud and brand suitability risks.
Through this approach, advertisers can optimise reach in brand-suitable environments to safeguard their reputations and maintain consumer loyalty, which is crucial for long-term success in the digital landscape.
Imran Masood is country manager ANZ at DoubleVerify.