Digital Ghost Town

If you spend a fair amount of time in the American Southwest, you can stumble onto many active or deserted ghost towns linked to the rise and fall of regional mining.  After the gold rush, buildings slowly decay, in the desert or mountain air, awaiting for some pricing news that brings the mines back to life.  The same thing I believe is about to happen in the digital advertising space.  The big dark secret at the moment is digital advertising fraud.  Simply put, all digital advertisers are experiencing ghost traffic from click farms, bots and other non human forms of traffic.   It is a multi-billion problem, just now being reported by major industry media outlets.  Simply Google it!

While it is not widely addressed by the content holders, the sparse ROI this channel is now producing is causing anxiety amongst my clients.  The low hanging fruit is gone, and my clients are having to refocus their acquisition efforts back to securing quality leads versus living on quantity-based digital marketing via Demand Side Platforms. 

Here is what I believe will be the response by marketers:

1)  There will be a swing back to humans validated across multiple databases.  The content and list owners who have 3X validated Personal Identifying data will rule the roost.

2)  Direct and email will come back in fashion, because both channels can guarantee delivery to real humans.

3)  Mobile couponing and geo proximity will be the new use of IP, allowing the retailer the knowledge they are affecting an in-store person.

There has always been natural forces that have shaped each channel, as they have emerged.  Direct Mail suffered from junk mail, email from Spam, telemarketing by Do Not Call, and now digital channels must face the music of click and advertising fraud.

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