When running a digital advertising campaign, you assume that the reported results by vendors are accurate and that you’re going to get a desirable outcome for your investment. Why would you have any reason to think that the results may not be a true reflection on the efficacy of your campaign or that you may be wasting your spend?

Unfortunately, it’s because it is reported that poor quality ads cost US marketers $7.4 billion in 2016 (source: Association of National Advertisers and White Ops). This means that a good portion of digital advertising campaign spends today are simply being wasted and not delivering.

In a recently released report from Forrester, it was revealed that certain digital advertising strategies really aren’t worth the investment. In the end, marketers aren’t getting the intended ROI due to lack of transparency in some practices and promises, and blurry or non-existent standards that don’t hold partners accountable for delivering the value they promise.

The real problem: Lack of effective targeting.

The root of the problem appears to lie in a broken reporting structure that focuses on viewability and CPM, but not on the true results or on ensuring the audience is segmented and accurately targeted. In other words, ad performance is heavily measured in views and clicks, but is not as focused on the quality of those views and clicks, which is a differentiator between a standard advertising campaign and an effective advertising campaign.

For example, the report explains that 36 percent of ads are “run in places no human will ever have the opportunity to see.” And of course, humans operate computers and are the ones you need to see your ad and take action.

Taking it a step further, no viewability measurement and reporting tool is 100% accurate. Each vendor that measures viewability has a slightly different definition of what makes an ad “viewable” and sometimes ads that are seen are not counted accurately in reporting and simply marked as “unmeasurable”.

If the ads are placed where no human will ever see them, then why are they even placed there? Why is the effort wasted on these placements across the industry? Why are marketers spending money on an advertising campaign that lacks strategy? And even more importantly, are marketers even aware that their ads were placed in those “vacant” spots?

The solution: Set, adhere to, and report based on standards – and work with those who practice what they preach.

While digital advertising is still a space of innovation and transformation, there are best practices that can help ensure your digital advertising spends will be worth the investment.

1. Choose partners that set standards. When working with partners on your digital advertising strategy, ensure those partners explain how they find and target the intended audiences. This transparency will help you understand where your ads will be placed and who will see your ads. This transparency will also hold the vendors accountable since they will need to explain exactly how/where the digital advertising is being implemented and the resulting actions.

2. Inquire about fraud. When working with partners, find out their opinion on fraud and how they work to avoid it. For instance, find out how they get their audience data and how it is used for targeting. Since Resonate uses proprietary, behavioral data that is verified by TrustMetrics and is always updated and relevant, fraud is greatly reduced and therefore campaigns are more accurately targeted to the right people at the right time.

3. Know how the data will be reported. Find out how the vendor will report results and relate the campaign performance to specific placements and actions. Again, this practice of transparency will automatically expose any fraud or results that do not reflect a positive ROI.

Overall, while the industry is wasting a lot of money on ineffective digital advertising campaigns, these campaigns can – and will – still be successful if the data used for targeting is accurate, the practices are transparent, and the reporting reflects real audiences and actions. If you take the right steps upfront then you can still reap the rewards at the end of a campaign

Find out more about how Resonate’s proprietary behavioral data ensures the best possible audience targeting and ad placement for your campaigns.