Ad Fraud, Blocking & Other Trends Impacting the Industry [A Q&A]

If there was ever an industry to be impacted most by marketing fads, Internet advertising is it.


With fads, however, come uncertainties about what to run, where to run it and how to analyze it. Since 2000, Exponential has adapted and evolved to stay on the forefront of an every-changing industry. As part of our Web Masters interview series, Website Magazine caught up with Executive Director of Business Development at Exponential, Roland Tanaka, to learn more about where advertising stands today and what his company's role is in moving enterprises and the industry forward. 


What should those using your services/products know about the industry in which you operate?


The online advertising ecosystem is crowded and competitive with many companies offering similar products and services. It can be overwhelming for a website or publisher to determine which company or companies they should partner with for their monetization needs. This requires publishers to spend time evaluating each one to decide who is worth partnering with - who offers the most value. Despite how time consuming this may be, it's incredibly important that a publisher properly does its due diligence on each vendor. Make sure to ask for publisher references, a list of advertisers they work with, and how long they've been in business.


How will your services/products change in the next 1, 5, or 10 years? 


Over the last few years, there has been a seismic shift toward automated platforms for advertising agencies and advertisers, commonly known as programmatic buying and selling. This trend will continue in the future as buyers and sellers strive for more efficiency and improved results from their advertising campaigns. 


Having said that, there are still many hurdles to overcome. For buyers, there is a lack of transparency of exactly where their ads are being displayed. Fraud is a major problem; 20 percent of programmatic impressions are generated by robot users (also known as bots). For publishers, CPMs tend to be lower and the quality of ads can sometimes be less than ideal.  


With this in mind, we offer both programmatic and non-programmatic solutions at Exponential. We recognize that the two biggest areas of growth for the next 10 years will be on mobile devices and video advertising. We offer high CPM, video-enabled ad units that render across all devices to meet the growing demand from brand-name advertisers looking for user engagement -  and not just clicks.  


Where is there most demand for your services?


We work with over 2,500 websites, from well-known premium publishers that are listed in the Comscore Top 500 to smaller, niche mid-tier passion sites. The biggest demand for our products and services are from mid-tier websites who do not have their own sales team and rely on us for all of their ad revenue, ad operations, billing and yield optimization. Our streamlined solution allows publishers to focus on what they do best: creating content and driving more users to their website. 


Who are your competitors?


We compete with Google, Rubicon, Pubmatic and OpenX. 


What are current trends impacting your business? 


There are a few trends that are impacting our business. They are:


- Plethora of buy-side intermediaries that exist between the advertiser and the publisher, which dilutes the net revenue for websites.


- The rise of ad blockers preventing advertising to be served to website visitors, thus affecting publisher revenue.


- The shift from desktop to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. CPMs are typically lower in mobile environments, so there is a revenue loss for each user that goes from desktop to mobile.


- Increased demand for video advertising with limited supply, which creates a large opportunity for high CPM video-enabled ad units.


Anything else you'd like to add?


In digital advertising, it's important to look beyond quick-fix fads or temporary, botched tactics that don't add value for the marketer. Since our inception in 2000, we have specialized in working closely with high-quality publishers to deliver advertising campaigns to brand name, Fortune 1000 corporations in over 20 countries around the world. Even though industry challenges such as ad fraud and ad blocking have recently been spotlighted, Exponential has historically focused on maintaining transparency, quality and strong results.