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What you need to know to grow your e-commerce business



App users visit brick and mortar 41% more often than non-users

E-commerce activity has grown substantially over the past two years. While online shopping was already primed for healthy growth over the next decade, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated any past projections.

Globally, e-commerce sales saw a 27.6% growth rate throughout 2021. With these growth numbers, Insider Intelligence expects that the worldwide e-commerce market will reach $5 trillion in 2022, and $6 trillion will be hit only two years later in 2024. This is largely fuelled by the fact that online sales continue to grow.

Even as stores reopen, the percentage of customers that opt to shop online is getting larger. Many industry leaders assume that these online shopping habits are here to stay, especially given the projected growth in online sales year over year.

The impact of accelerated e-commerce growth on retailers

In our always-on, buy anything anywhere world, customers want their shopping experiences to be personalized, dynamic, and convenient. As a result, many businesses are trying to reinvent themselves, adapt to new business models and technologies, adhere to new consumer expectations and keep pace with their competitors.

Given that retailers have had to pivot their business models to online (if they weren’t there already), the competitive landscape has become even more difficult to navigate. There has also been a notable “death” of brand loyalty amongst consumers due to market fragmentation, and the ease with which consumers can switch and find brand alternatives if they are dissatisfied. As such, retailers are facing a challenge in their efforts to differentiate themselves and stay competitive in a tough market.

Trends and challenges shaping the e-commerce industry in 2022

The growth across e-commerce sectors

As many e-commerce businesses experienced firsthand, COVID-19 caused a boom in online shopping. What was already a high-growth industry was catapulted into hyperspeed as the world adapted to changing regulations, societal norms, and customer needs. While the rapid growth across global e-commerce markets and e-commerce categories is projected to eventually even out to pre-pandemic numbers, that time is still far off. For 2022 and into the next two to three years, we will continue to see large upticks in e-commerce growth worldwide.

1.        The rise in importance of zero- and first-party data:

  • Data is used to make decisions and help companies reach their goals—but how data will be collected in 2022 is drastically different from how it was collected before. The rising importance of zero- and first-party data has changed the way e-commerce businesses will collect information from consumers.
  • With customers becoming aware of how much data they’re giving up to businesses every day, and with the dramatic change to data privacy initiated by the likes of Apple and Facebook, Data collection is becoming more and more challenging.
  • For online businesses, third-party data has been a critical component of marketing data strategy in recent years. Now, marketers will be forced to rely on zero- and first-party data.

Why we care. E-commerce companies will need to prioritize the collection of zero- and first-party data in order to sustain the marketing efforts needed to succeed. It will also require marketers to shift and look at metrics differently than before.

2.      Personalization in a cookieless world:

  • As regulations make data tracking harder, consumers will continue to demand data privacy AND highly personalized brand experiences. E-commerce businesses need to determine how they will continue to collect the necessary consumer data to foster these personalized brand experiences.
  • The most important thing for brands to understand is that the way consumers perceive specific data interactions is heavily dependent on their relationship with the brand. What does that mean? Consumers will be willing to exchange their information with brands if they know it will be used to deliver relevant content and a personalized customer experience. It all comes back to prioritizing customer trust above all else.

Why we care. Brands must be transparent about their data collection efforts and show that there is shared value in the data exchange to stay afloat in the cookieless world.

3.      Social commerce:

  • E-commerce activity is migrating to social media platforms, from brand marketing to customer service to shoppable advertising.
  • After more than a year of working from home, people around the globe are spending even more time scrolling through social feeds. The typical social media user now spends about 15% of their waking life using social platforms.
  • Sales through social media channels around the world are expected to nearly triple by 2025.

Why we care. Social media platforms are presenting new ways for e-commerce businesses to engage with customers and create unique experiences. If they haven’t already, e-commerce businesses need to get a grasp on social commerce and how to integrate this touchpoint into their overall strategy.

4.      Data reporting tools:

  • E-commerce companies are spending a countless amount of time analyzing data. Tracking everything from online store performance to return-on-ad-spend requires various tools to collect and analyze various metrics that matter to an e-commerce company’s business performance.
  • Today, e-commerce businesses have access to a large amount of data reporting tools and software to analyze their digital performance. While having so many options can seem like a positive thing for businesses, the reality is that most tools available only have selective reporting capacities. Without a reporting tool that has the capacity to pull all information into one central space, it is impossible to gain one single source of truth to make accurate conclusions and optimizations.

Why we care. Data reporting software/partners that centralize all metrics from all tools into one place will simplify the data analytics process, yield more accurate insights, and help e-commerce companies make better, more informed decisions.

5.      Delivery expectations

As online shopping activity continues to increase, consumers’ preferences and expectations for delivery have also increased. Free delivery is becoming expected and waiting any longer than two days for delivery can be a deal-breaker for most consumers. Some must-haves for today’s online shipping experience include:

  • Speed.
  • Low-to-no cost returns.
  • Painless returns.
  • Transparency and flexibility in the shipping process.

Why we care. Consumers are evolving right before retailers’ eyes. Understanding their behaviors and expectations and being nimble enough and committed enough to address and delight them in a timely fashion will be the differentiator online retailers need to stand out in the years to come.

As consumer expectations for shipping become more insatiable, shipping and logistics processes for e-commerce businesses become more complex and expensive. As such, selecting the right shipping platforms and partners is more important than ever for e-commerce businesses.

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Summary: Finding success in this rapidly evolving space

The events of the past few years have changed every part of the e-commerce buying journey, from what consumers expect and how they engage and buy online, to the rising complexities. The path to e-commerce growth means pivoting quickly to meet new customer and societal expectations.

For e-commerce businesses, finding success in 2022 revolves around 3 key areas:

  1. Striking the right balance when it comes to consumer data collection and personalization in a cookieless world: figuring out a way to make the exchange of zero- and first-party data more valuable to the consumer and worth their while will result in stronger customer relationships and business success.
  2. Providing a fast, free, seamless, transparent shipping experience sets an e-commerce brand apart from the crowd in the eyes of consumers. Evolving from traditional models, digitizing as many steps as possible, and finding the right delivery ecosystem partners is what companies must focus on.
  3. Adopting the right kinds of emerging technologies can help e-commerce leaders manage the rapidly evolving world of online retail, ensuring they are showing up in the ways that consumers expect them to and facilitating positive buyer journey touchpoints and experiences throughout.

In the race to offer a more exceptional online experience, striking the right balance between marketing, shipping and logistics, and technologies to provide an exceptional customer experience can feel daunting. Those retailers that figure it out will create a competitive advantage and win the mind- and wallet-share of consumers.

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

About The Author

Theresa is a Partner and the Chief Strategy Officer at Acart, an independent creative agency that understands the evolving intersection between strategy, media, creative and tech in ways that help transform brands.
Theresa has been a B2C and B2B marketing professional for more than 25 years, honing her craft in the consumer-packaged goods, tech, e-Commerce, and advocacy sectors. She has spent a career crafting strategies and go-to-market initiatives that have driven brand and business growth internationally for start-ups, SMBs and global enterprises. She brings a unique blend of business savvy and strategic thinking to her work. She spent the first 15 years of her career on client side, understanding first-hand the challenges and opportunities that executive-level marketers are up against, and has now spent the last 15 years in the ad industry counseling C-level clients on driving business and brand growth.

As an executive who has sat both on the client-side and agency-side, she has an unfair advantage in that she has catered to many distinct target audiences across many different sectors and industries, and as a result, brings an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience and insight to her engagements.

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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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