Everyone knows someone who prides himself on buying stuff on the cheap. I’ve been that guy from time to time. Three years ago, my then-five year old declared herself ready to learn to ride a bike. Not wanting to drop hundreds on a bike she’d out-grow in a year, I bought the cheapest model that would pass my daughter’s eye test.
That’s about all it did well. After just a few months of gentle use, I couldn’t calibrate the hand brakes. The bike shop technician I took to told me in no uncertain terms that it was not fit for riding. He wondered aloud how manufacturers could get away with pumping junk bikes into the market.
The answer to his questions stood right before him, peering back with a chagrined look on his face as he pondered the foolishness of trading his daughter’s safety for a hundred bucks.
My experience with my kid’s bike is a useful analogy for what’s happened to a significant portion of the digital marketing ecosystem.
I’m talking about much of the digital display market, which has penny pinched in order to achieve the illusion of quantity at the expense of quality. The result: a thorny thicket of problems that marketers are spending (or wasting, depending on your point of view) billions to tame. The problems include:
Ad fraud, in which ads are engaged illicitly. Read this fascinating story on how Google is fighting billions in fraud losses.
Ads that aren’t viewed or viewable
Extrapolated audience identity
Measurability, especially across devices