Buy Digital Directly. No, I’m Not Crazy!

Dr. Augustine Fou just published an interesting presentation, “You’re Not Getting What You Paid For,” which I encourage all marketers to read. The presentation lays out a number of the ways you–yes you–are being screwed in the digital ecosystem. In short:

  • You’re not running where you think you are
  • Your fraud verification tools aren’t catching the problems
  • The ad networks you’re buying on are serving ads to bots
  • The system is so complicated you don’t know where to start.

But there’s a glimmer of hope and Dr. Fou gives you a clue to the solution.

In slides 15-18 he gives examples of marketers (JPMorgan Chase, Restoration Hardware, and Uber) cutting back on the number of sites they purchase on. In all cases, the performance didn’t suffer. I’ve seen the exact same results with my clients.

Thinking back to June, I read this article about P&G and Unilever and reduced it to the following graph:

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 3.10.40 PM

You can see the raw data on this Google sheet.

Four things should jump off the graph above:

  • Google and Unilever sell products to everybody
  • Unless you work for a massive CPG company, you don’t
  • They don’t run on many sites, yet sell billions of dollars of stuff
  • They are running on fewer, not more, sites as time goes on

So how come P&G and Unilever can be successful running ads on <1,000 sites when you “have to” run on thousands?

The answer is they are looking ruthlessly at the data, calling BS on what they see, and you’re not. The bonus is that once you can get down to <1,000 sites, you can buy direct. No more going through sketchy ad networks selling ads to “audiences” of who-knows-what.

Yes, it’s manageable. Heck, it would even work in Excel. I’ve done the analysis on hundreds of thousands of sites by hand, by myself, in Excel. It didn’t even take that long.

So why aren’t you buying direct and only on a few sites?

Takeaway: Hard whitelist. Buy direct. Cut out the ad tech middlemen. Act like a performance marketer. And win.


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2 Responses to Buy Digital Directly. No, I’m Not Crazy!

  1. Love the Pilipczuk cut to the chase style.


    • markpilip says:

      Thanks. Buying digital media is complex, sure. But after you cut away the complications imposed by the martech and adtech “solutions,” you find it’s not unlike any other media. The same performance marketing principles and questions that work for DRTV, radio, direct mail, still apply. Like it or not.


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