Imagine, for a moment, an industry outside of digital advertising where waste was as commonplace.   You turn on CNBC in the morning to watch in horror that the aluminum market managed to misplace 7 billion dollars worth of the commodity. Vanished without a trace. Or that 800 million bushels of soybeans disappeared overnight.   The Association for National Advertisers reports that only a quarter of all digital ads reach real people, and the estimate of bot-driven fraud hovers at the figure of 7 billion dollars annually mentioned above.   We’re still in the maturation phase of the digital advertising ecosystem, and the combination of bad actors gaming the system, imprecise targeting and analytics that take forever to catch up are all causes of money wasted.   With the more prominent platforms such as Facebook and Google, you have to depend on their results and what they tell you for performance, with no third-party verification. But as marketers increasingly migrate spending to so-called native media and content-driven campaigns, following is a checklist to make sure you’re not throwing money out of the window.    
At Nudge, we show bot-free traffic, but also the number of bots that have been blocked from your data-set. This enables you to effectively manage spend and remain in control. Talk to us if you’d like to learn more.

1. Make sure your analytics are real-time

  The ad market moves like the stock market, bids are in real-time, continually adjusted and optimized. This fact means the market moves rapidly and you need your data in real-time to move with it.   Not having real-time data, is like trading on last week’s quotes. You look like a sucker a mile away.   We observed one campaign where 60% of people were leaving the content without consuming it. Put another way that’s $0.60 on every dollar wasted. Our client was able to identify this and address the problem (an ineffective headline), within hours. Most clients wouldn’t even recognize this leak and bare this performance burden.   The exciting thing is that access to real-time data allows for easy gains. Like the quants, having an edge on performance pays for itself over and over.  

2. Understand the nuances of bot traffic, and look for behaviors out of the ordinary

  Something that most people don’t realize is that bots are a part of the internet, they are required for it to run. Bots go and check that content is safe to be shared, to show you search results, to embed previews in iMessage, Facebook messenger.   But there are good bots and bad bots. You don’t often hear about the good bots, but they do exist and can make up 15% of your ‘impressions’. And the bad bots are like an arms race.   Like hackers, people work diligently to find ways around verification systems, to get traffic to circumvent. Typically bad bots are trying to avoid one or two data points to ‘look’ like real people.   Smart marketers go beyond that, going, here is the profile of a real user, which could be up to 30 data points (attention, scroll, source, device profile). And then anything outside this could be fishy.   One brand had 88% ad fraud on their content. It passed verification systems, as it was human traffic, but hidden from view. By identifying this, they caught it and reclaimed the lost investment.  

3. Focus on the nuances of attention, rather than clicks

  The biggest fear for marketers is that their content is never actually seen.   There are ways to see if your audience is receiving the information and messaging. Instead of thinking about blunt clicks, develop a post-click methodology to identify proof points of value.   For example, if your organic reach is scrolling the content 50%, hold your paid clicks to the same standard. This rule ensures you are optimizing for the right clicks, the clicks that get your content consumed.   Not doing that means you end up optimizing upstream, for the ‘clicks’ and CTR, which can mean optimizing away from content consumption. Cutting your nose to spite your face is not what the doctor ordered.  

4. Understand your industry benchmarks and what looks right for your category

  Indexes and benchmarks help ground your performance. No one wants to be below the baseline. You want to be at the table, competing. And without benchmarks, you don’t even know where the table is.   Make sure you look at the published category-wide benchmarks to give the best context possible. Marketers will build their own internal over time, but knowing what is excellent for a category gives you something to shoot for. It is surprising how many people miss this necessary step.   Once you have benchmarks, setting that as the minimum threshold, pushes your internal team, to challenge the norms and drive innovation.  

5. Fish where the fish are, however unconventionally

  Contrarian moves and bets often yield the most significant returns, just like investors in the market. Data doesn’t judge. It merely helps guide and provides feedback.   One gaming company identified that between 2 and 3 am, attention on their content went up significantly (20-30%). Ironically they had stopped promoting their content at midnight. They were able to adjust and continue during the late hours of the night.   The contrarian move that conventional wisdom would never advocate drive growth for them.   The job of modern CMOS is tough enough. They need to wear multiple hats. To drive strong business results, an important step is just stemming the bleeding with spend. And by doing this, you’re setting yourself up to do more active, creative work around the Web. 
Don’t be a passenger on your own content campaigns, with the right tools you can take the wheel. Schedule a demo with a Nudge account manager.