A lot of finger pointing occurs when it comes to online advertising. It’s always someone else’s fault that ads are blocked, impressions are outside of the viewing range, or fraudulent traffic eats up ad dollars. In an industry that faces scandal after scandal, let’s look at an ongoing issue — how media buyers can build confidence in online advertising.

The burden should not rest completely on vendors to make transparency a priority. The worst thing a media buyer can do is to perpetuate the problem by not asking for the right information. For example, every media buyer should know and have access to three things:
1. NHT (non-human traffic) Percent – If a vendor doesn’t know the percentage of non-human traffic viewing your ads, it’s time to shop somewhere else.
2. Viewability – How often is your ad spot located on a viewable part of the page?
3. Placement Performance – The vendor should share information regarding how ads perform based on page placement.
Which Metrics Matter to You?
Sometimes, the metrics we think are important are actually the most potentially misleading. For example, click-through rate and conversion rate can often fall prey to NHT and fraudulent use of cookies. Try to focus on performance indicators that are not as easy to fake, such as:
• Cost-per-acquisition
• Cost-per-lead
• Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM)
Focus on Quality, Not Price
The big mistake media buyers make is in focusing only on CPM. The result: we go after the cheapest media possible, forgetting that sometimes you need to spend money to make money. Focus on getting a high return from purchasing high-quality media.
Don’t Retarget Consumers to a Point of Annoyance
Retargeting is a great way to remind a consumer to return and actually buy those items he was looking at, or even left in her cart. But no one wants to see the same ad on every site she visits for the next two weeks. This is a sure way to send a consumer searching for the “Clear Cookies” button, or worse, it may drive him to ad block. Definitely use retargeting, but couple it with these techniques:
• A frequency cap on how many times the consumer will see the same ad
• A time frame based on the product (short times for impulse buys, and longer times for long-term decision items)