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| 1 minute read

Lifting the Fog of Digital Advertising

Nick Manning, one of the smartest people you'll find in advertising today, recently wrote about how brands spend billions on digital advertising despite numerous studies and articles that question its effectiveness, particularly on the open web.  In referring to the latest study from the Association of National Advertisers, he also questions how a brand or its media agency can logically spend media dollars to appear on 44,000 or more websites.  Further, he raises the inefficiencies of Made-for-Advertising websites, the latest iteration causing media investment dilution.  Manning notes, "The ANA Study shows that the amount of money going into Made-for-Advertising (MFA) sites is growing, a disturbing trend given that they are one of the most opaque and potentially wasteful places to advertise..." 

And now, the industry has to cope with AI driven bots and operators dramatically increasing the already epidemic of non-human traffic.  As Manning put it, "The bad guys will use AI for nefarious means long before the responsible use it for good. They are not constrained by ethics or regulation."   

Whether the ANA study or prompting from others, including regulatory agencies, will stem the tide of waste and lift the fog of digital remains to be seen.  

One way for brands to start turning the waste around is to review their relationships with media buying agencies and the entire digital ecosystem. The need to make sure their contracts require accountability and transparency throughout the supply chain. They can start with the ANA's recent contract template. The good news is studies by the ANA and others show that the task can be done. The bad news is that few brands embrace it, preferring not to rock the boat. Some also say that the brands don't need all the information they'd receive if the marketplace was truly transparent. That may be true. But it should be the brands, not the supply chain, that makes that decision.

The erstwhile guardians of media governance, primarily the media agencies, cannot tell (and don’t tell) where thousands of their clients’ ads are being displayed, nor whether anyone real saw them, nor if anyone cared.


ana, ai, media, made for advertising, media buying, digital waste, nick manning, entertainment & media, supply chain, emerging technologies