The 21st century brought us marketing technology. And with technology came the promise of science and an enormous appetite for data, measurement, and mathematics. Unfortunately, ad technology is corrupt and deficient. Consumers believe the adtech industry is dangerous, untrustworthy, and incompetent. They are right .
Pew Research Center studied consumer beliefs about online data collection. They reported that 81 % of the public say that “the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits.” 79 % say they are “concerned about how companies use their data.” 79 % of Americans say “they are not too or not at all confident that companies will admit mistakes and take corrective action.
While more people are going online for health information, Reveal and The Markup report found that “Facebook is collecting ultra-sensitive personal data about abortion seekers and enabling antiabortion organizations to use that data to target and influence people online.
However, that’s just one problem. Pharma online marketers’ most significant issue is ad fraud, primarily via programmatic. Ad fraud is one of the largest frauds in the history of the world. Nobody knows the exact extent of ad fraud, but several reputable studies peg it at over $ 60 billion. The World Federation of Advertisers says that by 2025 advertising fraud may be the second largest source of criminal income on the planet after drug trafficking .
Ad agencies have been particularly negligent in educating their clients about how much they may lose to ad fraud. If online ad fraud is stealing $ 60 billion a year from advertisers, ad fraud is a bigger business than Coca-Cola, Nike, or Netflix.
Half of programmatic ad money is being siphoned off by the adtech industry before it reaches publishers. n analyzing programmatic ads, about 1 / 3 of the dollars “was completely untraceable.” In some cases, the untraceable costs were as high as 83 %. This means the money just evaporated into the adtech black box without a trace. – Only 12 % of the ad dollars were completely transparent and traceable. An astounding 88 % of dollars could not be traced from end to end .
Should DTC marketers abandon all online ads? Of course not, but they have to get smarter about how they develop online ads and where those ads are placed. First, the ads should be designed to deliver the message where your audience is online. Please don’t make them click on your ad because time is short, and they don’t have the patience to go to drug websites that look like medical journal ads.
Second, every DTC marketer should be challenging their agency for greatly improved metrics measured in-house. If you’re still using impressions, you’re measuring nothing. I recently analyzed for a client, and over 80% of the ads were being served to ad fraud.
Then there are ads targeted at HCPs. The biggest complaint I hear is when an HCP uses ePocrates and is interrupted by ads while trying to get important information. See the funnel for Oncologists below.
What about social media?
When the history of this era is written, one of the key themes will be the remarkable success that social media manipulators had in influencing and exacerbating the divisions in democratic societies. Facebook’s terms of service and privacy policies are longer than the U.S . Constitution.
A report by Reveal and The Markup found that “Facebook is collecting ultra-sensitive personal data about abortion seekers and enabling antiabortion organizations to use that data as a tool to target and influence people online.
There is a free data-for-all inside Facebook, and the company has no control whatsoever over the data it holds. Facebook is too powerful to be run by a jerk like Mark Zuckerberg. He has simultaneously shown himself to be utterly inadequatein handlinge the responsibilities of managing an organization with the power and influence of Facebook. Facebook is ruled by an individual miles over his head and has no sense of the damage he is doing to society.
So when I see that DTC marketers are adding more money to digital ad budgets while neglecting the content and development of their sites, I take a blood pressure pill. Stupid is as stupid does.
NOTE: Please read Bob Hoffman’s book Adscam for an eye-opening look at online ads.