02/10/2014 11:08 BST | Updated 02/12/2014 05:59 GMT

Brands Need to Wake Up and Demand Verification

It's no secret that there is a growing issue with fraudulent traffic online. In fact, millions of digital advertising pounds are wasted each year. Nonetheless, digital advertising continues to grow. According to a new report from eMarketer, digital advertising will swell by 16.7 per cent globally this year, marking the first time digital will make up more than one-quarter of media spend.

Digital advertising undoubtedly presents a massive opportunity to reach relevant audiences at scale, which brands are rightly embracing. However, as the industry grows, so do rogue traders and bot fraud. Solve Media suggest an excess of 25 per cent of bot fraud in display advertising, causing difficulty when measuring ROI of campaigns. And according to research from Project Sunblock, 78 per cent of UK advertisers have no insight into how many of their ad impressions could be fraudulent.

Ultimately, the entire industry needs to align on viewability and verification to eradicate rogue traders in order for brands to see true ROI. It is however, the responsibility of brands to question if they're reaching the right audience, or indeed human eyeballs at all. The bottom line is, brands need to demand that the industry becomes accountable before it's too late.

What's the value of a click?

Bots are smart enough to mimic human behaviour, making them difficult to detect. The activity generated by these bots muddles the engagement metrics driven by real, human traffic, which dilutes the value of legitimate publisher inventory. So advertisers end up paying a portion of their campaign budget to fraudsters who deliver ad impressions that are never seen by humans.

For an ad to work, it needs to engage with a validated human audience that results in cognition. Steps need to be taken to improve viewability, so brands can reap the benefits. According to comScore, Kelloggs saw a 75 per cent increase in sales by increasing viewability rates by 40 per cent. My advice to brands is to start looking at dwell time, shares and completion rates that tell you a lot more about the success of an ad than simple views.

Brands such as Batiste, O2 and Sky go beyond the click when it comes to online video advertising, looking at the average time spent viewing the ad and the interaction rate. However, as each platform has its own method of measuring, there is an urgent need for the industry to align on standardisation of viewability, so all brands realise ROI, whatever platform they're advertising on.

Working with a trusted partner

Leaders in the industry are proactively seeking verification on viewability so that brands get bang for their buck. For example, publishers including the Guardian, Telegraph, and Dennis, are working with Omnicom to drill into cross-device, digital ad effectiveness in a major project led by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP). The IAB has also recently released a set of UK viewable impressions standards to offer guidance and greater accountability for advertisers, mirroring guidelines released in the US at the beginning of April. This follows extensive collaboration between IAB UK and IAB US to agree common transatlantic standards, ensuring consistency across both markets.

What's more, Integral Ad Science has teamed up to power viewability measurement within Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings™ in markets around the globe to deliver high-quality, third-party, multi-screen metrics that enable fair play in advertising. At Blinkx Media, we have taken steps by working with Nielsen and Integral Ad science to ensure that the quality of the audience viewing is high and ensures advertisers are engaging the right audience.

The need for verification and pushing the industry to align

The recent developments in online ad viewability is an indicator of some brands waking up and wanting to gain a clearer idea of what success really looks like online. While there is movement in the right direction, the industry is in a position where a lot of work needs to be done in order to ensure one overall verification method is accepted by the entire ecosystem. The European market, perhaps more than any other region, is in need of consistent verification but all brands need to be driving the demand for this, in order for the industry to align and collaborate on measurement.

The solution doesn't need to be complex, just consistent and available now. The market will buy whatever works but we as a community need to have the confidence to test, learn and develop to find the right solution.

Top tips to be savvier when it comes to ROI of advertising

 Monitor online advertising and look beyond views and clicks

 Question what return you're seeing from advertising

 Define the audience you want to reach and what a good result looks like

 Work with a trusted partner to get in front of the audience and agree viewability rates so you know you're reaching the right people

 Act now!