Leave it to Mike Shields of Business Insider for taking a position and calling out marketers and agencies for the faux shock they are expressing on issues of fraud and supply chain corruption. Not since Tom Phillips of Dstillery famously evoked HBO's "The Wire" has culpability been served in such substantial portions.
I'm sure that many in our industry will have nits to pick with Mike - honest people can disagree. But come on people! At very least, the optics are terrible. Marketers publicly crying foul, agencies and tech companies pointing fingers at one another... it's enough to give one the vapors!
As my small contribution to the debate, I'm offering a new way to look at the issues of quality, transparency, viewabilty, etc. Set aside all the tech speak and financial-bubble metaphors: the discussion is really about the quality of the internet food supply. Welcome to the concept of local food!
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Rather than continually backpedaling on issues like the percentage of viewable impressions and acceptable fraud levels, might we instead start to compete on the basis of quality - on how much we do know about the inventory we serve? Might we now start talking about the exact source of inventory - where it was born - and exactly what hands its passed through on its way to market? No shady rail depots or slaughterhouses. No grain silos tainted by GMOs or banned pesticides. I know the where all of my impressions came from and you are getting the cleanest shipment imaginable - USDA prime!
Think this is all a bit much? Or perhaps that I've gotten soft in the head from living in a farm state - Vermont - all these years? Maybe you're right. But consider for a minute the plight of the small publisher who's struggling to get fair compensation for high quality inventory? Is she really all that different from the organic farmer who's now able to charge a premium for a purer, cleaner product? Or think about the volume publisher or platform operating in a bottomless pool of inventory: Isn't he a bit like the big packaged goods company trying to drive up the price of commodity staples by appending organic, gluten-free or non-GMO to every possible product?
Maybe it's not as simple as asking the advertiser do you know exactly how that got on your plate? But maybe it's not such a bad way to start the conversation.