We have all visited websites where the advertising looks decidedly suspicious – promising miracles cures or unbelievable investment offers. Chasing ad dollars might appear to make financial sense in the short term, but as a recent report in Digital Content Next says, when a publisher’s only objective is making money, they are setting themselves up for failure.
- Writing on DCN, Tobias Silber of ad-tech firm GeoEdge says that ‘clickbait creative’ degrades the user experience of online audiences. And with 85% of advertising served through programmatic channels, research from his firm shows 56% of publishers are regularly faced with the problem of clickbait ads appearing on their sites.
- Silber describes clickbait advertising as promotional content engineered to manipulate audiences to click using sensationalist text or imagery. Research from GeoEdge suggests that poor ad quality degraded user experience on over 75% of publishers’ sites; 66% reported bad ads impacted their bottom line.
- He believes clickbait campaigns can lead users to ‘write off’ brands. But even where audiences don’t abandon a brand completely, clickbait can damage traffic metrics. Poor metrics will in turn discourage quality advertisers from buying inventory, forcing CPMs down over time and reducing overall revenue.
Securing the supply chain
- In a survey of 2,000 publishers, GeoEdge and native advertising partners WhizzCo found 47% blamed a content recommendation vendor when asked who is most responsible for ad quality. About one third accepted it was their responsibility and just under 20% thought that the advertiser was responsible.
- Although there are a host of intermediaries throughout the ad-tech ecosystem, Silber believes keeping their sites clear of clickbait and bad advertising experiences is a publisher’s responsibility. The publishers’ primary purpose is to deliver valuable content to audiences, he says.
- While publishers all maintain their own brand standards for advertising, the standards applied to user protection should be universal. Silber thinks the same attention should be put on curating ad experiences as into editorial content. He said:
Building a holistic user experience enables you to achieve meaningful, relevant engagement and increase user lifetime value.
Identifying clickbait goes beyond the creative; often the greatest risk to the user comes from the advertising landing page. With 81% of publishers worried that poor ad quality is costing them audience, 65% say that ad content and landing page safety are equally important.
Silber explains publishers must begin to recognize the cost of negative ad experiences.The most common cases of clickbait creative include:
- Advertising promoting financial products and services, including cryptocurrency.
- Misleading product offers, often in the health and wellness sector, pushing miracle cures.
- Well-disguised counterfeits offering trusted brands or services at low-cost.
While the long-term future of publisher monetization is programmatic, we must be careful not to sacrifice audience loyalty in favor of short-term revenue.
Giving up revenue
Ad selection is typically at the vendor’s discretion when it comes to content-recommendation ads. But although almost half of publishers hold content-recommendation vendors responsible for ad quality, publishers’ ad ops teams still need to address the issue.
Publishers are willing to forego ad revenue to attract higher-quality content-recommendation advertisers, with 60% saying they would give up revenue – 15% would sacrifice up to a third of revenue; and 5% more than a third.
One approach is to increase recirculation of original content in the content-recommendation units. Content recirculation – linking to publisher rather than advertiser content – is a common tactic in increasing time spent onsite.