Things are getting downright North Pole-y here at the Media Sales Trainer Command Center. We’ve even installed little Elf-bots to help us track all the naughty and nice things happening in marketing and media. And as usual these days, the naughty stuff is making all the headlines.

In case you’ve missed the news, it has not been a good week in online adland.

Setting aside the enormous kerfuffle around the growing, executive-level Facebook scandal, the DOJ just busted up an ad fraud scheme and arrested 8 people who were setting up bogus sites and collecting real ad dollars from them, an all-too-common occurrence in “programmatic,” where machines can easily be manipulated by bad Santas, er, actors.

So, poof, there went an estimated 30 million bucks of someone’s ad budget. Ouch.

But really, this is just small potatoes compared to the larger take, with some analysts predicting that, by 2020, programmatic ad fraud will surpass organized crime as the #1 criminal activity in these United States. Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm, trustworthy and brand safe inside?

Then, over the Black Friday weekend comes news that 300 million bad impressions were served to publishers in just over a 48-hour period thanks to the pervasiveness of ad malware. And you thought third rate burglars roaming shopping mall parking lots were the biggest holiday threat.

So what’s a conscientious media executive or sales rep do to ensure their clients aren’t getting hosed by the online ad placements they manage? Our advice is to ensure that your programmatic supplier has put in place verifiable practices to reduce exposure to ad fraud.

Specifically, we’d be asking if your programmatic supplier has adopted the ads.txt tagging system initiative established by the IAB, which is trying to clean up the industry before regulators and investigators come knocking (BTW, they’re already at the door).

You can do your part by advocating for ads.txt adoption early and often.

Reach Still Trumps Targeting

Of course you should still include targeted media elements in your integrated marketing campaign recommendations. Just don’t rely too heavily on the targeting part. After all, marketing is still a lot about reaching “the maybes.”

As the famed researchers Binet and Field have concluded, the best strategy to deliver long term brand and business growth is to adopt the 60/40 rule: 60% brand building in mass media. 40% sales activation in targeted media.

Someone cool just took the time to compile all the best graphs from Binet and Field’s research over the past few years, including the 60/40 rule, and it’s print-it-out-and-hang-it-in-your-office-or-cubicle worthy.

Counting Our Blessings

All of this snarky marketing and media talk could desperately use a sincere, emotional counterpoint. It is the holidays after all.

Which is why we’ll close today’s newsletter with a story of incredible significance and poignancy courtesy of our friend Carey Pena.

An Emmy award winning broadcaster, Carey has created an important media platform of her own over the past few years at

Just this week, she was contacted by a beautiful 31 year old woman (with a two year old daughter) who’s been given just weeks to live in hopes that Carey would interview her so that her legacy will live on.

If you only click on one link in this newsletter, let it be the one that leads to the heart-wrenching, life-affirming story of Alli Hagerdon.

And may it inspire you to count all of your blessings all year long.