I recently attended the ANA 2019 Digital and Social Media Conference in San Diego. It was a great event with many of the world’s top brands represented. Top digital leaders from Target, MGM, Sephora, Domino’s and many others shared smart digital programs that drove brand value and positive business outcomes. I made many new friends and learned a lot about the positive impacts and the challenges brands face to engage with their audience.
Ad Fraud Mitigation
On the ANA main stage, I watched Brandon Miller, Media Investment Lead for Land O’Lakes, and Michael Tiffany (@kubla), President & Co-founder of White Ops, dive into the problem of digital ad fraud. Brandon shared his passion about brands needing to play a more aggressive role in the fight against digital ad fraud (a $5.8 billion industry issue). He spoke about Land O’Lakes’ approach to digital ad fraud detection and “the importance of having a respectful and trusting relationship with all of their agency and vendor partners.” He highlighted that “it is not about pointing fingers, it is about getting better.” Based on their approach working in partnership with White Ops, Land O’Lakes has significantly reduced their sophisticated bot fraud rate down to a very low percentage, creating a very positive business outcome for their company and the farmers they serve.
Brands taking an aggressive stance against digital ad fraud is an important step. It shouldn’t be okay to have a significant percentage of their hard-earned marketing dollars wasted on ads that are viewed and clicked on by bots (not humans). We need to take a stand as an industry to mitigate bot-based ad fraud and disrupt the economics of cyber crime. In doing so, brands will experience a significant improvement in their marketing investments, increase human engagement, accelerate conversion rates and ultimately drive incremental ROI.
Performance Marketing Integrity
Another key aspect of digital fraud that wasn’t discussed much at the ANA conference is the impact of sophisticated bots on brands’ performance marketing, including lead generation and website visits. With the rise of sophisticated bots, a substantial amount of the traffic coming to a brand’s website may not be human, but instead be comprised of sophisticated bots that look and act just like humans.
Why is this important? Many of the brands we engage with experience more than 20% of their website visitors are sophisticated bots. The consequences include:
- Wasted spend on generating leads and sales and marketing follow-up (ie: retargeting)
- Wasted time on sales reps following up on non-human leads or humans who haven’t opted in
- Lower real conversion rates when you include non-human conversions (bots that become leads in the CRM)
- Inaccurate data when fraudulent leads enter CRM & DMP platforms
- Lack of transparency from walled gardens
Why has this been mostly unknown until recently and so hard to detect? Seventy-five percent of sophisticated bots:
- Live on residential machines
- Have cookies and browser history
- Can fill out forms
- Look and act like humans
I spoke with many brand leaders at the ANA conference about performance marketing integrity and the negative consequences of sophisticated bots impacting their marketing metrics, spend, impact on resources, conversion rates and ultimately ROI. It was something that most brand leaders had not given much thought to. Once I shared the story, you could see the concern on their faces and then the light bulb go off, thinking that if they fixed the bot issue, it could have huge benefits to the company.
Bringing this all together to “get better”: Brands face sophisticated bots that cause ad fraud and significantly impact their performance marketing. Brands that want to take a stand like Land O’Lakes can significantly improve their marketing effectiveness and benefit their business. Learn more about taking a stand here.