How Much Is Media Indifference Costing You?


With 2018 just around the corner, marketing teams across the country are working hard on their proposed budgets and strategy for the upcoming year. For the past few years, digital, mobile and social spends have been steadily climbing as audience habits shift towards digital platforms, and in 2017, we saw digital finally overtake TV in ad spend.

But 2017 wasn’t kind to online advertising. Not a week went by without a story about fraudulent inventory, manipulated and unverified vanity metrics, inflated audience, lack of viewability & supply chain arbitrage. Even the World Federation of Advertisers recent 2017 report on marketers top digital advertising concerns are the same today as they were 10 years ago.  

Despite Ad Fraud being the #4 concern, you might want to move it up on your list, and back it up with some revised contract Terms & Conditions with your media partners.

In the last 2 months, three more stories broke of major brands being defrauded out of millions.

Buzzfeed reported a major scheme that seemingly innocent sounding websites like,, & have been generating billions of fraudulent impressions through redirected bot traffic, which defrauded brands out of an estimated $20 million USD.

Well known sites Financial Times, Economist, Wall Street Journal & CNN were all spoofed by ‘Hyphbot’ which was uncovered by Denmark-based AdForm. Mashable, Coveteur & Funny or Die were also reported to be affected receiving upwards of 47% redirected non-human bot traffic.

More than 100 major brands (below) had ads running on these sites, and despite evidence of the fraud being provided, Johnson & Johnson, Disney and Ford all declined to comment.

Another brand responded with ‘the platform at issue has been fully blocked by our media programs’.


The indifference towards the issue, is perpetuating the problem; and it’s a huge problem.


Kristin Lemkau, the CMO of JPMorgan Chase presented at the AMA Masters of Marketing in October, reported the estimated loss in ad spend last year due to ad fraud was $7.2 Billion. This year it is projected to reach $16.4 billion. The WFA claims it could be as high as $30 billion. Whatever the number – it’s a lot, and nobody knows for sure.

All marketers can acknowledge there are issues & risks with advertising online, but now is the time to take the appropriate ownership and responsibility to mitigate the risk.

Below are a few simple tactics that can help increase performance, mitigate risk & raise accountability of your 2018 digital marketing budget.


Be self aware. Internalize Knowledge

This is a fundamental first step for many brands addressing accountability of digital ad spend.

If you don’t know what sites you’re currently running on, true supply chain costs, or meaningful KPI’s to assess by channel, this is an integral first step to evolve performance and extract more value from your partners.


Back to Basics

Buy what you know, from trusted publishers & suppliers. There is no reason to have your brand appearing on 10,000+ low brow sites that no one has heard of. Sure, data driven audience targeting is important, but context is paramount. Better content online tends to have higher CPM’s, but when you factor in quality of audience, in highly viewable placements, without too many intermediaries in the supply chain; you limit your exposure to arbitrage and fraud.


Independent Media Verification

3rd party media verification is an integral piece to assess true value of a digital channel. There are many great companies out there that can help your brand verify all performance metrics including viewability, audience reach, non-human traffic & supply chain economics. In addition to verification partners, brands must maintain a blacklist & whitelist. As we saw above – many innocent sounding websites have been the culprits of fraud; and went undetected by some of the largest media verification providers, so it’s important to to ensure the proper checks and balances are in place.


This is an ongoing process that takes commitment and follow through. But no matter where you are in the process, there is always more value to uncover.

How much additional value can your business uncover?  Why not give us a call and find out.


Grant le Riche is a founding partner of LE RICHE ARGENT, Canada’s leading Agency Search and Media Management consultancy. Read more like this on our blog ‘Marketing Unscrewed’.