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How marketers embrace agile ways of working



How marketers embrace agile ways of working

The following is a selection from the e-book “MarTech’s agile marketing for leaders.” Please click the button below to download the full e-book.

It’s important to say “no” to work that’s not valuable. Through planning, the team should have a good sense of what the business priorities are and what they’re trying to achieve. Therefore, when pet projects come in that aren’t aligned with those goals, the team needs to be empowered to push back. The same goes for planned deliverables that don’t perform well with customers or prospects. The team becomes expert at understanding what is working and what isn’t, so listening to them is an important aspect of creating an agile culture.

If you’re used to asking for work from the team, think about how you’ll feel if they push back? Can you accept those responses? What kind of data or information would you like to see to feel comfortable that they are justified in saying no?

Read next: A new way of marketing planning: At the last responsible moment

This will take a lot of trust on your part, so if trust isn’t there today, think about what steps you need them to take to gain your trust. Then communicate this trust directly to them.

At the end of the day, an agile team is responsible for delivering value to customers, not to internal stakeholders. They must be able to field any requests, but in the end be empowered to do the right thing for the external marketplace.

Consultants, not order takers

Traditionally, marketers have been focused on output. Work requests come in and then they are delivered upon. Most of the time there is a big separation between those asking for the work and those delivering the work.

In agile marketing, this needs to be a collaborative way of working. To begin with, business leaders need to lead with their desired outcome, not what piece of collateral they need.

The team should have the creative liberty of figuring out what work is needed to achieve that outcome and experimenting with different mediums should be part of the process, not just fulfilling predictable and static orders.

Your marketers are really smart, creative people and will be much happier in their role if they don’t just design content or write copy, but are truly part of the consultative process. Figuring out what’s needed is really valuable, so make sure to give that ownership to the agile team.

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Being transparent

When you start agile marketing, you’ll really notice how transparent the process can be. Everyone on the team knows what others are working on, and anyone else should be able easily to look at whatever marketing work management platform you are using and see in real-time what’s happening. The backlogs and roadmaps are collaborative too, so work is much more out there in the open.

However, with this newfound transparency, you may also find that some existing problems are finally bubbling up to the surface. It may be easy to blame agile for causing these problems, but agile merely exposes them.

Read next: 7 leadership behaviors for marketing agility

A company that I worked with that was just starting agile marketing was shocked to learn that they had already committed to five years worth of work to their business stakeholders! It wasn’t agile marketing that did that — it was already there all along, but when they put their work into a single marketing backlog and estimated the effort, this suddenly became an obvious problem. That left them with a choice to make — hire more people or decide what work they weren’t going to do.

Focused efforts

One of the beautiful things about an agile marketing team is that people can make a more focused effort. The team should have a focus for their work, such as a single product, a part of the customer journey or a business value stream.

While getting the team to have a focus is fairly easy, limiting staffers to working with only one (maybe two at the most) project teams can be a bigger challenge. The reason this becomes a challenge is people are traditionally hired for a very narrow skill set, and if the designer is the only one that can design, you end up either needing one for every team member or, if you don’t have enough, splitting that person across many teams.

You can resolve that problem by making team members work more as generalists than specialists (they won’t be experts at everything, but will be allowed to go beyond their HR title) — or by beefing up your staff. But neither of those ideas are great for agile marketing. The truth is, the more focused people can be on a team, the better results of agile marketing you’ll see.

Beyond dedicated team members, you need to think about how many campaigns or projects the team is working on at the same time, because there is a really big cost to context switching.

When I go to write an ebook like this, I need at least an hour of uninterrupted time. If I could have the whole day, that would be even better — my thoughts freely flow onto paper and I get into the writing groove. However, that really never happens, so every time I stop and start again I have to reread what I already wrote and remember what I was going to say next. That inherently makes for a much slower process than if I can fully focus for extended periods.

As you can see by the chart below, someone working on five projects at a time (which let’s face it, is really a low number in the marketing world), loses 75% of their time by jumping around from task to task. My husband was recently working on more than 10 different client projects and his head nearly exploded!

Effects of context switching on project time and productivity.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them



The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

Ad fraud is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest data indicates that it will cost businesses a colossal €120 billion by 2023. But even more worrying is that fraudsters’ tactics are becoming so sophisticated that even big-name companies such as Uber, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon have been victims of ad fraud in recent years. 

So what does this mean for the rest of the industry? The answer is simple: every ad company, no matter their size or budget is just as at risk as the big guns – if not more. 

In this article, I summarize some of the biggest and most shocking cases of ad fraud we’ve witnessed over recent years and notably, what vital lessons marketers and advertisers can learn from them to avoid wasting their own budgets. 

The biggest ad fraud cases in recent years 

From fake clicks and click flooding to bad bots and fake ad impressions, fraudsters have and will go to any lengths to siphon critical dollars from your ad budgets.

Let’s take a look at some of the most high-profile and harmful ad fraud cases of recent years that have impacted some of the most well-known brands around the world. 

Methbot: $5 million a day lost through fake video views 

In 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, the self-proclaimed “King of Fraud”, and his group of fraudsters were discovered to have been making between $3 and $5 million a day by executing fake clicks on video advertisements. 

Oft-cited as the biggest digital ad fraud operation ever uncovered, “Methbot” was a sophisticated botnet scheme that involved defrauding brands by enabling countless bots to watch 300 million video ads per day on over 6000 spoofed websites. 

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Due to the relatively high cost-per-mille (CPM) for video ads, Aleksandr and his group were able to steal millions of dollars a day by targeting high-value marketplaces. Some of the victims of the Methbot fraud ring include The New York Times, The New York Post, Comcast, and Nestle.

In late 2021, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.8 million in restitution. 

Uber: $100 million wasted in ad spend 

In another high-profile case, transportation giant Uber filed a lawsuit against five ad networks in 2019 – Fetch, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi, and AdAction Interactive – and won. 

Uber claimed that its ads were not converting, and ultimately discovered that roughly two-thirds of its ad budget ($100 million) wasn’t needed. This was on account of ad retargeting companies that were abusing the system by creating fraudulent traffic. 

The extent of the ad fraud was discovered when the company cut $100 million in ad spend and saw no change in the number of rider app installs. 

In 2020, Uber also won another lawsuit against Phunware Inc. when they discovered that the majority of Uber app installations that the company claimed to have delivered were produced by the act of click flooding. 

Criteo: Claims sues competitor for allegedly running a damaging counterfeit click fraud scheme 

In 2016, Criteo, a retargeting and display advertising network, claimed that competitor Steelhouse (now known as MNTM) ran a click fraud scheme against Criteo in a bid to damage the company’s reputation and to fraudulently take credit for user visits to retailers’ web pages. 

Criteo filed a lawsuit claiming that due to Steelhouse’s alleged actions — the use of bots and other automated methods to generate fake clicks on shoe retailer TOMS’ ads — Criteo ultimately lost TOMS as a client. Criteo has accused Steelhouse of carrying out this type of ad fraud in a bid to prove that Steelhouse provided a more effective service than its own. 

Twitter: Elon Musk claims that the platform hosts a high number of inauthentic accounts 

In one of the biggest and most tangled tech deals in recent history, the Elon Musk and Twitter saga doesn’t end with Twitter taking Musk to court for backing out of an agreement to buy the social media giant for $44 billion.

In yet another twist, Musk has also claimed that Twitter hid the real number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. He has also accused the company of fraud by alleging that these accounts make up around 10% of Twitter’s daily active users who see ads, essentially meaning that 65 million of Twitter’s 229 million daily active users are not seeing them at all. 

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6 Lessons marketers can learn from these high-profile ad fraud cases 

All of these cases demonstrate that ad fraud is a pervasive and ubiquitous practice that has incredibly damaging and long-lasting effects on even the most well-known brands around the world. 

The bottom line is this: Marketers and advertisers can no longer afford to ignore ad fraud if they’re serious about reaching their goals and objectives. Here are some of the most important lessons and takeaways from these high-profile cases. 

  1. No one is safe from ad fraud 

Everyone — from small businesses to large corporations like Uber — is affected by ad fraud. Plus, fraudsters have no qualms over location: no matter where in the world you operate, you are susceptible to the consequences of ad fraud. 

  1. Ad fraud is incredibly hard to detect using manual methods

Fraudsters use a huge variety of sneaky techniques and channels to scam and defraud advertisers, which means ad fraud is incredibly difficult to detect manually. This is especially true if organizations don’t have the right suggestions and individuals dedicated to tracking and monitoring the presence of ad fraud. 

Even worse, when organizations do have teams in place monitoring ad fraud, they are rarely experts, and cannot properly pore through the sheer amount of data that each campaign produces to accurately pinpoint it.

  1. Ad fraud wastes your budget, distorts your data, and prevents you from reaching your goals

Ad fraud drains your budget significantly, which is a huge burden for any company. However, there are also other ways it impacts your ability to deliver results. 

For example, fake clicks and click bots lead to skewed analytics, which means that when you assess advertising channels and campaigns based on the traffic and engagement they receive, you’re actually relying on flawed data to make future strategic decisions. 

Finally – and as a result of stolen budgets and a reliance on flawed data – your ability to reach your goals is highly compromised. 

  1. You’re likely being affected by ad fraud already, even if you don’t know it yet

As seen in many of these cases, massive amounts of damage were caused because the brands weren’t aware that they were being targeted by fraudsters. Plus, due to the lack of awareness surrounding ad fraud in general, it’s highly likely that you’re being affected by ad fraud already. 

  1. You have options to fight the effects of ad fraud  

Luckily, as demonstrated by these cases, there are some options available to counteract the impact and losses caused by ad fraud, such as requesting a refund or even making a case to sue. In such cases, ad fraud detection solutions are extremely useful to uncover ad fraud and gather evidence. 

  1. But the best option is to prevent ad fraud from the get-go

The best ad fraud protection is ad fraud prevention. The only surefire way to stop fraudsters from employing sophisticated fraud schemes and attacking your campaigns is by implementing equally sophisticated solutions. Anti-ad fraud software solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence help you keep fraud at bay, enabling you to focus on what matters: optimizing your campaigns and hitting your goals. 

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