Our Authenticity Policy And How We’re Challenging Advertising Practices

July 4, 2016

Written by Benjamin Potter | Creative Director, CLICKON Media

“No one trusts advertising or media.” That was a statement that AdAge published last year in response to the growing mistrust towards our industry. In an industry built on “trust,” naturally this came as quite the blow. Shady online advertising practices have left a sour taste in clients’ mouths, causing them to become inherently skeptical about the very practice of spending marketing dollars online. 

Authenticity is at the heart of everything we do at CLICKON. For those that have followed our journey since the beginning when we were a fledgling company of just three employees, we have done our best to be transparent with both our success stories as well as our failures. Note, there have been far more failures than successes so far, but as a wiseman once said, “you can’t learn without failing hard!”

In an industry full of deceptive metrics and blatant dishonesty, it’s sometimes easy to think you have to conform. There were moments – albeit in the early stages of the business – where it was tempting to buy into this world. Yet it never felt right. A growing uneasiness to how online publishers carried out business forced us to confront a problem that is rife in the industry. Brands pay big advertising dollars to established online properties unaware of the true ROI they are getting thanks to carefully constructed metrics that act as a veneer for what is truly going on.

In all of our meetings with clients, we get naked. Figuratively speaking, that is. When we present our audience insights, we do it in a way that clearly separates our internal network with our digital partner network. We carefully explain the difference between owned properties versus partner properties. We strive to give the most accurate portrait of our landscape. We always try to under-promise and over-deliver. In some cases, it hurts our chances of winning a new client or convincing a media planner to spend money with us versus a competitor who over-promises and under-delivers. But authenticity must override any temptation.

Our wrap-reports are detailed and helpful to clients. We don’t try and pull the wool over their eyes in a desperate attempt to get repeat business. Anyone can make numbers look attractive on a page, but at the end of the day, did the campaign really satisfy the brand’s objective?

Thus far we have a 100% success rate with first-time advertisers doing repeat business with CLICKON. In advance of each project, we manage expectations carefully. So far, the result has been client satisfaction that has exceeded any of our expectations. We tend to over-deliver on metrics and spend extra time during production to give 110% to all anyone we work with. We are in this industry to add true value, not simply to make an easy buck or two. I personally would’ve taken a career in finance if I wanted to do that.

Authenticity is at the core of everything we do, and most importantly, in the content that we create. Not only are we challenging the transparency issues that make brands so mistrusting of online publishers, but we are also embracing a new approach to online advertising in general. We don’t sell traditional IAB units to clients because we know that their returns are dismal. We sometimes include them in plans as added value to garner brand awareness but that’s it. Instead, we encourage rich dialogue between advertiser and audience, story-driven content that enhances the lives of consumers. The results have been positive. We’ve seen CTR’s of up to 8% on native content, with an average view time of 3.5 minutes.

As we move into a new phase of CLICKON this summer, we hope that other online publishers will begin to adopt this approach in order to change the perceptions on the advertising industry.