Mathew Ingram says the online advertising house of cards will topple soon. It’s an insightful post, though a depressing read for a web publisher like me. He is right about the fraud part, and this is also prevalent in other forms of online marketing (how many real people you think tweet/retweet those hashtags?).
The silver lining in the post was a reference to the new attention metric Chartbeat is trying to promote. As a publisher I have always vouched for the fact that reader’s attention and the time he spends on a web page should be a big factor in measuring returns on the ads on that page. If you left a page in a wink, chances are you didn’t look at the banners at all.
The post ends with this doomsday scenario:
The bottom line is that with bot-driven traffic, pixel-stuffing and other tricks, kickbacks and outright fraud, on top of the fact that less than 50% of all online ads may even have a chance to be seen by a real human being, the online advertising market is like a house of cards that is ready to topple–or a tiny child’s bicycle being ridden by dozens of clowns, all perched on each others’ shoulders. How long before it collapses completely?
I doubt if the collapse is going to happen soon. Programmatic demand continues to rise. With the print dying, web will only become more formidable as a medium to market on. And while better and more accurate ways to measure will arrive and be standardized eventually, I think, to pick one of the lines from Mathew’s post, advertisers will come to terms with this reality:
….as John Wanamaker famously said: “I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.