July 25, 2016

Display Ad Horseshit

Here at The Ad Contrarian Worldwide Headquarters, we're in a never-ending battle with the forces of evil who are trying to get you to piss away your money on worthless, wasteful, creepy and abusive "interactive" advertising.

Last week's post called "Tons Of Data And Not An Ounce Of Sense" established for all eternity that no one on planet Earth interacts with "interactive" advertising. 

As expected, the dimwits who know nothing about advertising have sent me lots of nonsense about how display ads shouldn't be measured by clicks, but by how effective they are at brand building and engagement and all kinds of other imaginary hogwash. Apparently, these goobers believe this crap.

It's time to put this bullshit to rest.

The following data comes to us courtesy of Lumen, a research company in the UK that since January has been conducting what it calls "the world's first eye-tracking panel." 

What they do is kinda technical but simple to understand. They have a panel of over 300 people. They've done 35 controlled studies and studied 28,000 minutes of "natural browsing" against more than 3,000 different online ads. They follow peoples' eyes to see what they look at. Let's have a look at what they've uncovered. (I want to be clear, the research is theirs, but the conclusions are mine.)
The first column is impressions. Impressions are the crap you're paying for. In any truthful world an impression would be defined as one person seeing one ad. But in the corrupt world of online advertising an impression has nothing to do with either people or ads. According to the IAB, an impression is 
"...a measurement of responses from a Web server to a page request from the user browser"
Got that? No humans, no ads. Servers and browsers.

The second column shows us that only 54% of "impressions" are "viewable." This means that even if people wanted to see your crappy ad, half the time they can't.

It may not load in time. It may be "below the fold" where it can't be seen. It may be the result of fraudsters who send a pixel that registers as a "response from a web server to a page request from the user browser," or it may be some other incomprehensible technological or criminal reason above my pay grade.

But the point is, about half of all online ads you pay for are not even visible.

If you're asking yourself, why in the the fucking world would I pay for an ad that's not visible? I have bad news for you. You'll never be a CMO.

Now we get to the third column. This column shows us that of "viewable" ads only 65% are actually viewed. Doing the math, this means that only 35% of the total number of "impressions" we bought are actually seen by anyone.

But wait there's more wonderful news. Of the 35% of ads that are actually seen, only 25% of them are noticed for at least a second. In other words, 75% of the time ads that are technically "viewed" are really only glanced over for less than a second.

This brings us down to 9% of our so-called impressions being seen for a second or more.

Can it get worse? Sure it can, this is the web. It always gets worse.

Now we have to factor in the bots. Remember, Lumen only tests humans. But as we surmised last time, at least a third of the time an "impression" is not a human at all, but a malignant software thread that is pretending to be a human.

So, when we're done with all the shady online horseshit, what we're left with is this -- at the end of the line, of the 100 "impressions" you paid for, maybe there are 6 real people glancing at your ad for a second or more.

If that's your idea of money well-spent on brand building or engagement you, my friend, are what is known in my hometown of Brooklyn as a fucking moron.

July 21, 2016

Marketing Morons Never Sleep

In the time-honored tradition of client disloyalty, duplicity, and ingratitude, Chick-Fil-A has fired its agency of 22 years, The Richards Group.

The Richards Group was responsible for a long-running and highly effective campaign that featured rebellious cows exhorting us to "Eat Mor Chikin."

Here's what Chick-Fil-A's new-ish (a year and a half) brand babbling CMO had to say,
"The cows are an integral part of the brand. They're our mascot, if you will. But they aren't the brand. The brand is bigger than that..."
To give you an idea of what this clueless goober has in mind for Chick-Fil-A, here's the witless trash from a brilliant "Cows-plus" marketing strategy (no, I'm not kidding) that he had some other agency do for Chick-Fil-A recently.

As usual, CMO's, in their arrogant egocentrism, have to screw with everything they didn't create.

Chick-Fil-A started as a tiny regional brand and is now the 8th largest restaurant chain in the U.S.

Despite having half the number of stores and being closed on Sundays, Chick-Fil-A outsells KFC by 50%. Its sales-per-store outperform industry leader McDonald's. It is by far the largest chicken chain in the country. Its sales have grown six-fold since 2000.

And it has done it with an advertising budget that is a fraction of KFC and McDonald's.

The account has gone to McCann in NYC. And what is McCann going to do with the "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign? According the president of McCann they have a "mission to bring that line to life."

No, Richards brought that line to life. Your mission is to keep from fucking it to death.

July 18, 2016

Tons Of Data And Not An Ounce Of Sense

One of the great advantages of online advertising is that it generates lots of very valuable data. This data helps us make excellent media and marketing decisions. Or so I'm told.

But I'm afraid I may be suffering from that ailment called "cognitive dissonance" because from what I can see we have lots of data about online advertising and we're making astoundingly dumb decisions.

Let me give you an example.

Google tells us that here in the U.S. the average click rate for an online banner ad is about .07%. That means for every 10,000 ads we run we get 7 clicks. This is beyond alarming.

But we also know that about half of those clicks are accidental. So that gets us down to 3.5 real clicks per 10,000 ads served.

Then we have to account for fraud. Now nobody knows how much click fraud there is, but there is responsible research that estimates it as high as 90%. I'm frankly skeptical that it's that high, but I think most knowledgeable people agree that it's probably no less than 35%. So let's go with that more conservative number.

Now we're down to an effective click rate of about .02%.

Since all the amazing data we have at our fingertips has allowed us to target only highly worthwhile consumers, we can assume that those 2 people we have induced to click with our "precisely targeted" compelling message are really valuable to us.

But wait a second...

We also know that 85% of clicks are generated by 8% of the population. The probability of inducing a click is not so much related to the preciseness of our targeting or the relevance of our message, it is related to the likelihood of having reached a click maniac.

So it's unlikely that the two measly legitimate clicks we're getting are even prospects.

Am I crazy? Because it seems to me that every bit of precious data we have about display advertising tells us that it's a complete and utter joke. And yet every year we increase our spending by double digits.

As far as I can tell, we have tons of data and not an ounce of fucking sense.