We recently spoke with publishing veteran Bo Sacks about the future of online advertising.
Sacks began his publishing career running a weekly newspaper in New York City in the 70s. He was a co-founder of High Times Magazine, and has held leadership positions at McCall’s, Time Inc, New York Times Magazine Group, Ziff-Davis, International Paper, Bill Communications, and CMP.
Sacks currently runs his own consulting firm, Precision Media Group, and publishes “Heard on the Web: Media Intelligence,” a daily e-newsletter delivering pertinent industry news to a diverse, worldwide, publishing community of over 16,000 media industry leaders.
The Current (Fraudulent) State of Online Advertising
Bo Sacks did not pull any punches when he described the current condition of the online advertising space.
“It’s neither stabilizing nor correcting itself, it’s getting complicated,” Sacks explained about the digital advertising industry. “They say that the best test of a first-rate intelligence is to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time, d be able to function. Well, that’s what’s happening. There’s conflicting ideas going on in the ad industry right now. We are so filled with so much fraud that it’s hard to tell the good players from the bad players. It’s just everywhere.”
Sacks cited bots, Ad Blockers, and “millions of apps” that can illegitimately click on ads to boost revenues for dishonest sites as key problems in the industry. “One of those bots produces one billion fraudulent ad impressions per minute,” he said.
Sacks also explained that accurately quantifying the amount of online advertising fraud is practically impossible due to the sheer volume of it.
Fighting Fraud in Online Advertising
Despite the prevalence of fraud in online advertising, Sacks is optimistic it will be beaten – eventually.
“Unfortunately, those who perpetrate fraud are always one step ahead of those who are trying to create the rules, so it’s going to be a long-term dynamic till we figure this out,” he explained. “And I can’t tell you how we’re going to figure it out, I just believe that we will. We have to.”
Despite billions of dollars potentially being lost through advertising fraud, Sacks feels there is no turning back and the future of advertising remains digital.
“We will continue to move forward in the digital world, and make it work to the best of our ability,” Sacks said. “I question, and wonder, if we can waste seven billion dollars, how much money is there out there that you can afford to lose seven billion dollars? What’s the upside of that coin?”
If Sacks is right, with so much big money involved, online advertisers will eventually find ways to improve their return on investment and lessen the impact of advertising fraud.
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