Tarun Sinha
Guest Article

Are we spotting the inefficient digital advertising?

With the menace of ad fraud growing bigger, advertisers must enforce transparency and efficiency in their online advertising strategy.

Imagine you are on a vacation with family only to have your credit card declined at the time of checkout. Now, that's not a good situation to be in. A smart person has backup cards and some cash to make sure that the bill is paid. In digital advertising, publishers are getting into a similar situation by making unplanned bets.

Are we spotting the inefficient digital advertising?

Tarun Sinha

Ad fraud is a major problem affecting the entire digital advertising ecosystem. The issue has become a roadblock for advertisers in ensuring their budget is being spent intelligently, to reach out to the most relevant audience. Veterans like Unilever and P&G raising their voice against ad fraud, is setting a precedent for the industry at large.

With conventional digital media choices focussed on high-reach platforms, traditional digital publishers wooed early-bird advertisers into digital investments. E-commerce sales, live streaming of cricket matches, Masthead ad takeovers, picked up as a trend. High-reach numbers on digital and cost-effectiveness of media, with respect to other media choices like TV, Print or Radio, made the digital investments lucrative.

The key question that advertisers must address is - has the advertising influenced the real digital consumer? A longstanding debate on the poor receptiveness of ads on digital media and low conversion rates has clearly defined the issue or maybe, made it more complicated to understand. Is digital advertising all about "eyeballs at scale"; Is my ad being viewed by the right consumers; What if, my ads have been clicked by bots; and How do I ascertain that my ad is not placed against any compromised content. The underlying cause for these issues lies in programmatic advertising. In simple terms programmatic is buying digital advertising space automatically and using technology, data and machine-learning algorithms to target consumers. However, programmatic is not the only concern for digital advertisers, a bigger problem is fraudulent advertising.

How big is the problem in India?

As per estimates, advertisers lost $350 Mn in India to ad frauds on mobiles in 2017. India has a mobile advertising fraud rate of 32 per cent as compared to the global average of 15 per cent. With advertisers increasingly spending on digital advertising platforms, are they losing the real meaning of marketing ROI? Are advertisers being offered a transparent and safe environment to advertise?

The measures to improve digital advertising in India have proven to be a huge struggle for advertisers. The ethos of advertising in India centres on the achievement of successful ROI. This mindset restricts Indian advertisers from looking to achieve further growth and innovation in the field, leading to a distinct stagnation in the progress of digital advertising.

The need to rethink digital strategy

Advertisers must relook at the conventional ways of planning digital investments. They must truly understand the customer journey before planning digital advertising. Alongside, use contextually targeted ads with a specific purpose, allowing campaigns to both, be cost-effective and expandable in terms of reach.

A well-targeted campaign will enjoy high ROI and high campaign metrics such as CTR (Click-through rate) and Conversions. Marketers need to focus on Ad Tech platforms with well-targeted and profitable ad solutions. Online classifieds platforms such as OLX, offer a large database of "ready to buy" audiences that are just as inclined to purchase from within or outside of the platform. With first-party data insights, they offer a contextual and relevant environment for advertisers, along with a sizeable audience that has a higher purchase intention and thus, a higher likelihood of conversion towards the advertising.

Cognizance of digital advertising risks and smart ways of measuring digital ROI should solve the issue of information asymmetry and hence, digital inefficiencies. Come digital 2.0, every digital platform is now stepping up their game. Sliced-n-diced targeting opportunities and analytics backed by first-party data are all bringing back credibility to the business.

The digital eco-system is evolving and the threats will co-evolve. An avant-garde approach is the way forward!

(The author is Business Head of Advertising, OLX India).