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Advertising online using big networks like Facebook or Google has become the standard for the digital advertising industry.

It would be unacceptable today not to advertise your brand, product, or service online.

Digital now makes up the lion’s share of what marketers are spending their ad dollars on. In 2017 digital finally surpassed the market shares of television and print for the first time in history and is expected to make up 50% of what will be a $600 Billion global industry by 2020.

But even the most seasoned of online marketers operate with a considerable amount of uncertainty when it comes to the details of campaign performance.

And it’s not their fault.

Major ad networks operate within a black box– a system that can be observed based on its inputs (your ad dollars) and outputs (analytics reports) without any means of ever knowing what’s really going on in between.Black box of mysteryThey operate with little to no internal transparency, providing nothing other than complicated and confusing analytics reports that fail to ever really fully account for where an ad was placed, who saw it, and whether the audience was a human or a fraudulent bot.

They’re unable to verify the legitimacy of the event and the integrity of the traffic. But you’re paying for it either way so, really, why should they care?

This lack of transparency and accountability is disgusting, given that roughly $51 Million is stolen by ad fraud or lost to waste every single day.

Your money, robbed from you, without a trace.

So really, what is the paper trail?
When you launch a campaign, where does your money go?

We’ve been working on developing tools and online platforms that shut down ad fraud for a number of years and we are ready to launch Ad Protector as one of the technical assets that are native to the tribeOS platform.

The fact that we’re ready to launch is part of why you’ll be hearing so much from me here on our blog.

Well, I thought it was important to address this lack of transparency on the part of major networks. I wanted to write an expose on where your marketing dollars really go when you launch campaigns online. I wanted to map out, once and for all, a paper trail that clearly shows how revenue shares are divvied up and doled out because the fact is, this information is carefully guarded by networks and not readily available to the public.

I wanted to change that.

So I set my research team to work answering the question, where exactly do your digital ad dollars go?

They scoured the web. Compiled endless articles, editorials, data maps, customer reports, shareholder statements, and found dead ends at every turn.

We found that major networks and ad exchanges, which are the two outlets that marketers have to launch online campaigns, are incredibly selective about what information they provide as to where your ad dollars are allocated and the details of your ad’s performance.

Despite the many hours our team has dedicated to investigating the breakdown of where your ad dollars go, we were unable to find any clear account of the matter.

And I assure you, this is no accident.

What is Revenue Share and How does it Work?

For every dollar you spend running a display ad, a certain percentage is given to the publisher (the person who owns the website where your ad is placed) and the network takes the rest to cover ‘service fees’. This allocation of funds is called the revenue share.

Networks vary in how the revenue share of ad spend is distributed (in other words, how much of a cut they take for themselves) and it’s important to keep in mind that there are a number of contextual factors at play.

If you’re a publisher who owns a destination website– a site that generates a massive amount of visitors each day– you may rake in 70% of the ad spend. Meaning that if your online property is valuable enough, you could earn $7.00 for every $10 spent on buying ad space on your website.   

But, if you’re a small, independent, or somewhat unknown website that is still building its audience you’re more likely to receive a very small cut of the revenue generated by ad space on your site.  

In other words, digital marketers pay a premium to place their ads on premium websites, and owners of revenue generating properties receive a higher percentage of campaign funds.

Fair enough.

But what’s interesting is the rising chorus of premium publishers expressing concern about the decidedly user-unfriendly ad-tech solutions available today, and vocalizing frustrations over what they’re calling “the disappearing ad dollar.”

Investigations have found that, in fact, only 30% of your ad dollars are going to some of the world’s most sought after publishers, meaning networks are keeping 70% of your marketing budgets for themselves and have no governing body holding them accountable as to what justifies taking such a substantial cut of the profits.

Selective Disclosure of Revenue Share

Big networks only disclose the revenue share for very select display channels.

Which means what we do know, we know mostly indirectly from inference and deduction.

For instance, one of the two largest digital advertising platforms in the world today only discloses the revenue share for 2 of it’s 5 active products– Content and Search– but does not report the percentage of funds given to publishers for Hosted Domain Search, Mobile, or Video Ads.

Mobile makes up the lion’s share of display ad placements with a 63% stake in all digital ad service, making this omission notable, to say the least. More than half of all ads are served up to users browsing on mobile and we have no idea how much publishers can and should earn for ads shown on their mobile sites and/or apps.

How can that be?

Again, with no one to hold them accountable for responsible revenue sharing amongst stakeholders, major networks and ad exchanges are permitted to operate in a black box state. We put our marketing dollars in, we get confusing reports back that tell us nothing about what we purchased, no way of verifying the data, and the network has no reason to disclose how much of that money they kept for themselves.

Another example of how zero accountability creates zero transparency would be the second largest ad serving platform. They offer no direct information whatsoever regarding the revenue shares of the various channels that make up its active ad service, but indirect reports show that they are keeping as much as 45% of all video ad break dollars.

And that’s all we know.

By the Numbers

Considering the massive amounts of money being made by major networks and the fact that ad revenue is often the majority share of their income stream, one would think they would be required to demonstrate where our ad dollars are going.  

But because there is no form of governance to enforce any kind of legitimate accountability, they have no real reason to disclose this information.

The walled garden is safe, the black box holds strong… but people are getting fed up.

There has to be a better way…

If there was no ad fraud, there would be no tribeOS.

If advertisers were seeing intelligible returns on their campaigns, we would not exist.

If publishers were getting a proper share of the money generated by their websites, the world wouldn’t need us.

But unfortunately none of these things are the case and that’s why we came together as a team to build tribeOS.

We believe that instead of zero transparency advertisers should have radical transparency with respect to where their ad dollars go, where their ads are placed, and who sees them.

We believe that publishers should get the lion’s share of revenue generated by the websites that they own.

We believe that people have a right to know what’s going on inside black box networks and ad exchanges and the world needs an alternative to this corrupt, archaic, and infuriating approach to ad tech.

So we designed a platform where advertisers and publishers can engage with one another directly without some middleman standing in the way, taking a cut, and convoluting campaign results.

We integrated Ad Protector to shut down fraudsters and end the $51 Million a day ad fraud robbery once and for all because we believe that advertisers have the right to run ad fraud-free campaigns and finally get their money’s worth.

We acquired Golden Lantern bulletproof tracking because we think advertisers want to be able to see, in real time, where their ads appear and who saw them so they can finally make intelligent and informed strategic decisions about their campaigns.

And we’re backing the entire marketplace on the blockchain because no one can fake an immutable ledger.

There is a better way and we are dedicating our lives to making this vision a reality.

We are a movement, and we are growing.

Advertiser or publisher?

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the movement to end ad fraud, join our waitlist and get early access to the tribeOS platform, plus the chance to run campaigns for free


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Matt Gallant

About Matt Gallant

I'm a seasoned, serial entrepreneur who’s built 13 profitable companies. My 20 years of advertising experience has prepared me perfectly for tribeOS. Over 8 million leads captured, over 13,000 marketing experiments performed, over $10 million spent on digital advertising, and over $40 million generated in online sales. My single-minded purpose is to create the most profitable advertising marketplace ever for advertisers and publishers.

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