Media waste – 1st hand experience

Wojciech Ras | 12 maj 2023 | 5 min read

There’s still a lot of waste out there when it comes to ads – it costs advertisers money (which could be put into better use) and at best it does not improve brand performance, while the worst-case scenario is that it actually harms the brand. For variety of reasons, digital is the usual suspect when it comes to media waste.

My recent experience with an in-app add that is a great example of that: I’m a daily user of a language learning app, which also serves both banner and video ad formats. An ad of a well-known online apparel retailer grabbed my attention and here’s what should have been done differently to not consider it media waste:

Frequency: I’ve seen these ads (a few versions for the same campaign) at least few times a day every day (morning and evening) for the past two months. Perception of creative aside, let’s do some quick math: let’s say the effective ad exposuire in digital is somewhere between 5 and 20 times (2017 Nielsen study indicated 5 – 9, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s more). I’ve seen the ad at least 4 times each day for the past 60 days, making it 240 vs. max. 20 recommended for effectiveness. That’s an index of 1200 vs. maximum dose prescribed! Even if it was half of that, that’s still 6 times more.

Geo targeting: the ad was explicitly advertising its Swiss website, while I live in Germany, so even if I simply gave up after these 240 times and clicked the ad, I couldn’t buy anything (without changing the settings) even if I wanted to! And if I did, it would affect the German, not Swiss P&L.

Ok… Maybe the app doesn’t have the advanced targeting capabilities (which I doubt, because I’m a unique user and there’s registration data required) or maybe it was a great flat fee deal of advertising’s version of “all you can eat” (after all, not all users are daily visitors, even though they should)… And maybe that’s just this one apps that over-delivers the impressions and everything else is great and it’s not such a big deal… and after all, it was a human being that has seen the ad and it was fully in the screen, so it’s all good, right?

And if it’s just 5%, that’s ok, right? What if it’s 10%? Or 20%? Think what you could do if someone handed you back 20% of your salary without you losing anything?

The real question is – do you (and even more so, your agency) actually know and control all qualitative aspects of your campaigns, or are you just happy with loads of impressions? A campaign may look good at first glance, until you start to scratch underneath the surface and realize it didn’t do your brand any good.

Media waste is like throwing away food: both are a crying shame and should be prevented.

If you want to find out more on how you can get rid of waste and put the right governance process in place, get in touch – Progmatic can help!

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