The digital media budget continues to grow year over year. With targeting and reporting getting better every year we see bigger budgets and the competition continues to be fierce among vendors and publishers to get these dollars as they shift from other media.

The above could be a sentence from any time in the last few years, but one thing has not changed since the first transaction in history. You get what you pay for.  We tend to forget that when it comes to media and the clamor to buy the latest or the newest innovation or the most detailed reporting package and all at the cheapest price is hurting the digital media buy.

Lately, I’ve been seeing more pop-ups than usual, more inventory below the fold and at the very bottom of the page and fake pre-roll loading on what I consider to be legitimate websites. All in the quest to get the most inventory at the cheapest price.

The ad to the right is a great example. The company that served this ad is a “trading desk” that touts their ability to drive traffic and get their CPC price down from a respectable $1.08 to $.049 in a case study on their site. You know why they can get the cost per click that low? Because inventory like the space to the right is basically free.

We could deliver inventory like this for you all day, too! We could serve millions and millions of ads for your brand and stretch your ad budget to deliver quantities of impressions and clicks that would blow your mind. But, we will remind you that you get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

We aren’t going to claim that every ad we buy appears above the fold and we never serve ads at the bottom of a page like this one, but it isn’t our strategy. When we buy inventory, we are measuring its performance and delivery in ways that tell us where and when that ad appeared. If we’re delivering clicks but no conversions, we know immediately something is wrong with the campaign (or the landing page. Sometimes it’s a horrible landing page).
The bottom line is buyer beware. Don’t be seduced (I say this way too much) by fancy proprietary software, amazing slide shows with graphs you dream of presenting to your CMO and promises to get you the reach and share of voice beyond your dreams for half the cost.