This article was originally published on DCN InContext on October 31, 2022.
Partners in blame
There’s bad and then there’s intentionally-bad. Know this: intentionally-bad backfires.While fraudsters are primarily to blame for the rise in deceptive advertising, publishers’ desire to fill inventory during times of economic uncertainty also contributes to the problem of bad ad experiences. GeoEdge research revealed that 54% of publishers feel pressured to run poor quality ads to meet quarterly revenue goals. According to our survey, 47% of publishers’ AdOps teams were told to leave an ad up that they would have preferred to take down.
Yes, they bring in revenue. But those fill rates come at a high cost. Bad ads damage publishers’ reputation, prompt user churn, and impair publishers’ ability to enhance user experience. It is critical that publishers take steps to ensure that they can combat economic volatility without compromising their integrity.
Optimize value exchange
Since the widespread adoption of programmatic, much of the media industry has chased short-term profits, often at the cost of hard-won audience trust. Programmatic channels regularly serve users clickbait, inappropriate ads, and brands that poorly align with audience preferences.
In 2022, 76% of publishers revealed that their users reported clickbait ads on their sites. And 24% shared that their users were scammed due those ads.
These deceptive and off-brand ad experiences cause users to question where publishers’ values really lie. And to many, the modern value exchange is insufficient. Publishers must redefine reciprocity or risk losing their audience.
When media professionals think revenue-first rather than user-first, they alienate their audience, fail to transform readers into subscribers or grow relationships with new readers. The ensuing loss of trust leads to user churn and a tarnished reputation. The solution is to create a better value exchange and uphold standards.
Ask your audience
Publishers have done nearly everything to understand their audiences’ ad quality preferences except for the one thing that makes the most sense of all – asking them. Creating positive ad experiences is often based on guesswork. Publishers assume audiences’ preferences and set their ad quality policies accordingly.
Optimizing the value exchange demands new technologies to pinpoint which ad experiences audiences enjoy and requires automation to reinforce those standards.
When it comes to bad ads, publishers can’t expect users to seek out an email address and send a complaint. The ad unit itself must include a functionality that lets both readers and editorial teams report bad ads directly to AdOps teams, and not to Google or third-party ad platforms.
Allowing users to directly report inappropriate ads differentiates a publisher from the competition, It also builds connections with audiences. This is especially vital in an era where audiences expect publishers to share their values and respect their preferences.
Engaging your community
Audience preferences change over time. User ad reporting provides a listening channel that’s always open. It creates a direct line of communication that’s far better than finding out about bad ad experiences on social media where a negative call-out can go viral in minutes. Actionable data allows publishers to fine-tune their ad quality policies, and to adapt ad experiences as preferences evolve.
A “Report by the User” social listening tool provides publishers the chance to reclaim audience relationships and build a positive, involved community. When readers feel they’re part of a community, they naturally share and engage more.
The more users interact with the ad reporting tools, the more publishers learn about what their readers like and don’t like. This data informs both the ad strategy and editorial decisions alike.Every click further refines publishers’ understanding of what ads interest their audiences, creating increasing engagement.
Stop ignoring your audience and they’ll start engaging with you.