Doing The Time Warp. Again.

Political folks take a certain amount of justifiable pride in dismissing shiny toys in favor of techniques that attract, motivate and engage voters.

That has always made good sense. Voters follow, they don’t lead. But it’s beginning to feel like campaigns could miss out on the power of digital, especially if they rely entirely on programmatic ad networks.  By sticking to what they think “works” for 2016, political folks will rely on techniques that don’t reach voters.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of conversation about ad blocking software that keeps ads from displaying. It’s a feature in new versions of some web browsers and there are specific blocking apps for mobile devices.

Ad blocking, as many have pointed out, is a symptom of an automated system run amuck, a diagnosis that has the Internet Advertising Bureau calling for all kinds of reforms. If you’ve ever struggled with a slow-loading site on a mobile phone only to see the stuff you want to look at jerked around by ad windows, you know the problem.

Next up – and related – are conversations about online ad fraud. The most recent estimate is that 11% of banners and 23% of video – that’s pre-roll – much loved by political folks – bought on networks is not seen by actual readers. Ads are appearing on sites deliberately designed to run without being seen by humans or set up simply to record automated and self-generated “bot” views to name just two of the more obvious ploys (the list of devious ideas goes on and on….)

Voter matching to run targeted ads does NOT resolve this problem. Matching does NOT find specific voters; it finds people like those voters on ad networks. All ad networks have problems with fraud.

So, what are the solutions?

We outlined some in this newsletter and post a few months back on “viewability”. That advice – get server access, ask for site lists, monitor click-through rates – still holds. Spot-On also suggests a mixed ad buy: Direct placement, which has less fraud and higher viewability, in concert with closely monitored programmatic.

This advice is given with an eye toward changes in the online market, especially the rise of online newsstands. Apple has “Newstand”, Facebook has “Instant Articles”. Google’s got AMP. These are cleaner versions of editorial designed to load fast with minimal but attractive ad placements.

Increasingly, publishers are beginning to take certain kinds of inventory off their network/programmatic platforms to ensure their value. Even Google has pulled open access to YouTube, an attempt to increase its ad rates and protect its increasily valuable – and popular – home-grown talent.

Spot-On has always bought direct and we’re more than happy to talk about how online can be used it more effectively and efficiently. Just give us a shout. And you can also follow us on Twitter or hang out with us on Facebook