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The NBA Bubble: Again, Why Are They Doing This?

“It will take a Disney miracle for the NBA’s Orlando plan to succeed amid pandemic fears, soaring positive tests in Florida, the Black Lives Matter crusade and players filled with anxiety.”

Jay Mariotti

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Vegas is laying the wrong odds. Rather than establishing the Lakers, Bucks and Clippers as NBA title favorites, sportsbooks should emphasize the real action: What is the likelihood that the league’s military lockdown camp — er, bubble — will collapse in a shambles of coronavirus outbreaks, Black Lives Matter concerns and star defections that leads to a shutdown of the Adam Silver Salvation Tour and exposes this Disney World fairy tale as an all-time disaster?

Again, why are they doing this?

The NBA is moving forward, of course, because its very future depends on it. Silver is trying to recoup more than $1 billion in potential losses and keep the league on an unsteady track toward the 2020-21 season, which presumably would be played without spectators and a 40 percent windfall of game-night revenues. Broadcast partner Disney is trying to resuscitate ESPN, which is suffering from abysmal ratings not seen since its tractor-pull days of the early ‘80s. And players want to make money, especially if owners eventually use the force majeure clause — the most painful sports phrase since androstenedione — to terminate the collective bargaining agreement and impose … deep breaths … a lockout.

The sports world could deal with baseball going away for a long time. The NBA, across key demographics, would be a devastating loss. “Either way, I think it’s going to happen, whether the players play or not,’’ said NBA great Paul Pierce, dropping the L-word on ESPN, not exactly the media synergy that Silver and Disney boss Bob Iger want. Thus, there is the frenzied urgency to send 22 teams of up to 374 players to Florida and resume the season late next month, so everyone can get theirs.

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Yet even after the league released a 113-page manual, detailing health and safety protocols on its “campus,’’ the chances of the bubble bursting appear far greater than any awarding of the Larry O’Brien trophy in mid-October. You want me to be positive, upbeat, stop wearing a mask. Sorry, when lives are at risk, realism is the operative mission. And the world is much too complex and fraught now to think a vast majority of players — including the big names necessary to maintain competitive credibility — will remain committed to quarantined living for weeks and months.

As a pandemic continues to wreak deadly consequences, Black Lives Matter is a massive, historic crusade that only has swelled since George Floyd’s murder. Together, the elements are planting doubts among players who’ve been preparing to play in the bubble, muffling Silver’s hopes for a Hoops Kumbaya. “We have an obligation to the NBA community to try. The alternative is staying on the sidelines, and that is giving in to this virus,’’ the commissioner said. “For us, we feel this is what we do. We put on NBA basketball. For the country, it will be a respite from enormous difficulties people are dealing with. And for social justice issues, it’s an opportunity for NBA players to draw attention to these issues because the world’s attention will be on the NBA and Orlando. if we can pull this off. It’s a unique opportunity to respond to George Floyd’s death.’’

Or another reason to stay home, keep your loved ones safe and not let basketball distract America from Black Lives Matter activism.

Do not understate the importance of next Wednesday. That’s when the entirety of NBA players must inform teams if they intend to participate. In and of itself, covid-19 remains enough of a threat, for the players and their families, to scare everyone away regardless of uncollected salaries. They see reports that the rate of positive tests is rising in central Florida. No matter how elaborate the testing procedures, the league acknowledges that a relentlessly contagious virus will lead to positive tests, actually putting it in writing: “the occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of covid-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption” of the season. So what this becomes is a virus watch first and a basketball season second, not a comforting thought when playing a close-contact, sweat-dripping indoor activity. Remember, at least 10 NBA players and one head coach, Denver’s Michael Malone, have been infected.

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How many more will test positive — as numerous athletes have in other leagues, including the NFL’s Zeke Elliott — upon reporting to the bubble? When they arrive, players must self-isolate in hotel rooms, for as long as 48 hours, until two negative tests are delivered. If a superstar is on the first list of positives, another asterisk immediately will be affixed to an already tainted season. Vegas wouldn’t be so cruel to set odds on which players are infected, would it? Hey, the casinos are desperate, too. Even Michele Roberts, paid to protect a membership as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, is bent on accepting the risks. “No one is suggesting that this is going to be an infection-free, guaranteed environment,” Roberts told the Associated Press. “I guess, unless we go to … well, where would we go? What state has the lowest rate? There’s just no way of finding a sterile environment probably on this planet, but certainly, not in this country.”

Again, why are they doing this?

Players will be tested “regularly,’’ not daily, and the games will go on regardless of positive tests. But if a prominent player is determined to be infected, say, during the postseason, his team is effectively screwed as he quarantines in “isolation housing’’ and sits out at least 14 days. I’ve found Silver to be much more trustworthy than the Major League Baseball dopes, but transparency is of the essence. Will the NBA report all positive tests — or, in the interest of preventing hysteria, not be as forthcoming in the cases of elite players? It’s a fair question, given the financial stakes.

All of which is complicated by the possibility — no, probability — that certain young millionaires unaccustomed to hearing “no’’ will defy the league’s wishes and leave campus. “The expectation is that players and team staff will not leave,’’ reads the protocol, but “expectation’’ is code for sneaking away for a night on the town, which, in otherwise sleepy Orlando, might mean strip clubs. Face it, the league can ramp up all the campus amenities imaginable — luxury hotels, golf courses, swimming pools, players-only lounges, DJ sets, 24-hour room service, yoga, biking trails, bowling, fishing — and not stop some players from bucking the system and going out. The league seems serious about enforcement, asking players and team personnel to be watchdogs and snitches, even supplying an anonymous hotline to blow whistles. If someone is caught leaving the bubble without prior approval (such as for a family emergency), he’ll face 10 days in quarantine and undergo the hellish procedure of deep-swab nasal testing. There also could be “a warning, fine, suspension and/or removal from campus’’ by the league.

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But at that point, if a player is rebellious enough, will he care about a fine or sabotaging his team? Throughout America, people in their 20s believe the pandemic is over and a fun summer has begun. Think NBA guys are any different? Perhaps LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo would reel in their teammates and remind them of the championship mission. But most bubble teams have only minimal title chances and might have antsy players who want to party. Or, players who decide to bail and go home, which would further bastardize the season. As it is, they’ll be living apart from family members, playing without fans in the stands, required to dress and take showers in their rooms and invited to wear “a proximity alarm’’ that will sound for those not following social distancing guidelines. At what point does a player crack in this isolated environment? And when the final eight teams, after the first playoff round, are allowed to reserve one separate hotel room for each player’s “guests,’’ how will that perilize the quest to sterilize? It’s no wonder the league is suggesting each team have a mental health professional on site if “any player experiences feelings of anxiety and stress upon transitioning to the campus and being away from household family members.’’

This might explain why the league, curiously, has abandoned policy and won’t be testing for recreational drugs the rest of the season. The manual reminds players that marijuana is illegal in Florida and banned at Disney World, but apparently, no one officially will be monitoring use. Was that an intentional perk? Might weed save the NBA? In this league, weed trumps any assurance, straight from the bubble manual, that Disney World will be cleaning “spaces and surfaces before and after use by different teams with Ecolab Peroxide Multi-Surface Cleaner & Disinfectant and Oxivir Tb disinfectant and wipes.’’

Still, not even the ability to get high will influence players who’ve seen progress in a purpose far beyond basketball — racial injustice — and don’t want games deterring from Black Lives Matter protests. Kyrie Irving, an elected vice president in the National Basketball Players Association, has been the loudest voice opposing a restart, but it’s uncertain whether his strong statements of last week have gained momentum in numbers. “I’m not with the systemic racism and the bull(bleep),’’ said Irving, per The Athletic. “Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.’’

To which ESPN analyst and ex-NBA center Kendrick Perkins replied: “No one is listening to Kyrie. The NBA is going to continue. All he’s doing is causing unnecessary drama between the NBA brothers that we don’t need right now.’’

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A player who prioritizes Black Lives Matter and declines to play will not be seen as violating his contract, Silver said. Given the league’s healthy social conscience, the commissioner would prefer players use the bubble as a platform, allowing that network telecasts might include “a series of speakers in police reform and why covid-19 has a disparate impact on people of color.’’ He never stops thinking, Adam Silver, who might want to rescue MLB and help the NFL if he somehow pulls off this miracle.

“Not surprisingly, there’s not a uniformed view among those players,’’ he said. “(The campus) may not be for everyone. It will entail enormous sacrifice on behalf of those players and for everyone involved. Listen, it’s not an ideal situation. We’re trying to find a way to our normal in the middle of a pandemic and recession, or worse, with 40 million unemployed and now with enormous social unrest in the country. As we work through these issues, I understand that for some players, this is not for them. It may be for family reasons, health reasons, or it may be that they feel their time is best spent elsewhere.’’

If enough players enter the bubble and stay the course, the new NBA normal would no doubt fascinate viewers. The strangest postseason in sports history will be contested in three boxy gyms with a smattering of spectators, one public-address announcer, time-out music bouncing off empty walls and assorted TV cameras trying to be innovative.

I do want to believe in the uplifting Disney ending, I really do. I want the trademark Happily Ever After, the When You Wish Upon A Star vibe.

But this being 2020, I fear we’re about to get the scene where Mickey Mouse goes to the hospital.

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NBA Basketball Media Continues to Pile On The Boston Celtics

These Celtics have yet to win a ring and that is on them, but the media criticism levied against them has been inane.

John Molori

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Logo for the Boston Celtics and screengrabs from ESPN
Screengrabs from ESPN's First Take and Get Up

They are the most unfairly criticized team in the NBA, a team that cruised to 64 victories and earned the number one seed in a very tough Eastern Conference. They have taken two NBA playoff series in five games respectively and lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-0 versus Indiana.

I speak of the Boston Celtics, and despite these sterling facts, their two superstars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the team as a whole, continue to garner criticism from the roundball media.

These “experts” say that the Celtics cannot be trusted and that they have not played to their potential. The Celtics have been to the Eastern Conference Finals six times since 2017 and made it to the NBA Finals in 2022, losing to the Golden State Warriors, but to listen to the basketball cognoscenti, you would think they are a bunch of green-clad slugs.

I get it, the Tatum-Brown Celtics have yet to win an NBA Championship, and I agree that if they don’t win it all this year, it will be a failed season for sure. After Boston defeated Cleveland in the Eastern semifinals, TNT analyst Draymond Green stated that no one cares that the Celtics once again made it to the conference finals. He is 100% correct, but that does not mean that the Celtics are utter garbage.

It’s really hard to win an NBA playoff series in five games. The Celtics have already done that twice in these playoffs, but instead of giving the Celtics credit for taking care of business, many commentators have denigrated them for how they are winning and the teams they have faced or did not have to face.

Joel Embiid was hurt. Giannis Antetokounmpo was hurt. The Knicks were banged up and the Cavs lost Donovan Mitchell. Well, too bad. Injuries are a part of the game. Are we forgetting the Celtics have been crushing playoff series without Kristaps Porzingis? When the Celtics get attention from the national media spotlight, it is usually with an air of disappointment and disgust. I’m wondering why.

ESPN and FS1 give endless attention, hope, positivity, and forward-thinking to the Los Angeles Lakers. Simply put, the Lakers are a mediocre to decent basketball team at best. They were dumped in the first round of the playoffs and if not for their history, LeBron James, and the city in which they play, they wouldn’t even be in the discussion. They are the New Orleans Pelicans with Snoop Dogg at courtside.

Still, the Lakers remain in the A block on many network hoops shows. Do you want to talk about a lack of trust, disappointment, and not reaching potential? How about the defending champion Denver Nuggets?

Yes, they have a two-time MVP in Nikola Jokic, but what about his team this year? They fell to a bunch of playoff neophytes called the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing Game 7 at home. Meanwhile, the Celtics took out an always tough Miami Heat team and a highly competitive Cavaliers team, 5 games each. All these Celtics do is win. Does it matter if the wins are pretty? Since when is that the media litmus test?

In a recap of Game 1 of the Eastern finals, a thrilling 133-128 overtime win for Boston, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps said that the Celtics almost “coughed up” another game at home. He went on to say that all the Pacers had to do was inbound the ball and hit a free-throw, and they would have won. Fine Tim, but guess what? They didn’t get it done and the Celtics did. Mistakes and capitalizing on mistakes are a big part of basketball.

Bontemps went on to say that if the Celtics don’t win Game 2 vs. Indiana, the Game 1 win will not matter. This is quite possibly the most foolhardy statement uttered in this year’s NBA playoffs. When four games win a series, every win matters. I understand that the Celtics lost Game 2 at home in their first two series, but so what? They righted the ship and swept both series the rest of the way.

During Game 1 against the Pacers, the Celtics jumped out to an early double-digit lead, but Indy came back to tie the game as good NBA playoff teams are known to do. ESPN’s Lisa Salters asked Boston guard Jrue Holiday how the Celtics lost the early lead. Holiday calmly replied that the Pacers are an NBA team as well. Exactly.

At the end of Game 1, after Boston stormed back in regulation and dominated the OT, ESPN play by play announcer Mike Breen said that the Celtics “survived” Game 1. It was an interesting choice of words that underlined the unfair criticism of Boston.

Coming back in a game, hitting big shots, and winning when it matters is not surviving. It is stepping up, closing the door, and being clutch. Breen is probably unfamiliar with these words because he’s been hanging around the Knicks too long.

On the May 21 edition of ESPN’s First Take, the talented and eloquent Andraya Carter questioned whether the Celtics can be trusted pinpointing Jayson Tatum in the conversation. Austin Rivers vehemently disagreed and the two engaged in a lively debate. The morning after the Celtics won Game 1 vs. the Pacers, ESPN’s Get Up crew still dogged them.

The eminent host Mike Greenberg asked the panel how Jaylen Brown could get open for the “easiest” three-point shot of the game to tie the game with just seconds left in regulation.

If you watch video of the shot, however, it was hardly easy. Brown was in the far corner with the 6-10 Pascal Siakam in his face and the Indiana bench just a couple of feet away most likely yelling Dicemanesque obscenities his way. These are the types of unmerited insults tossed at the Celtics. Brown hits an amazing shot with everything on the line and it is somehow considered the easiest shot of the game. Really?

Much of the rancor toward the Celtics is based on their stacked roster and the perceived lack of talent in their opponents, but let me get all historical on you for a minute. The nearly unanimously coronated greatest player in the history of the game, Michael Jordan, did not play all-time great teams in winning his six NBA Championship series.

In 1991, it was an old Lakers team. In 1992, it was the utterly forgettable Portland Trailblazers. In 1993, it was an aging Phoenix Suns team with Charles Barkley trying to get a

ring. In 1996, it was a good, but not great Seattle Sonics club, and in 1997 and 1998, it was the Utah Jazz. I’ll give the Jazz Karl Malone and John Stockton, but the rest of the team did double duty in a men’s weeknight league at the Northern Utah YMCA.

In fact, a team’s competition is trivial. If you win, you win. It doesn’t matter who is on the opposite side of the court. The Celtics have yet to win a ring and that is on them, but the media criticism levied against them has been inane.

Even the legendary Michael Wilbon piled on saying that if the Knicks were completely healthy, he would have picked them to beat the Celtics. All due respect to Mr. Wilbon, but a fully healthy Knicks team still may not have beaten the Pacers, sharpshooting like Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon.

On Get Up this past week, ESPN’s Alan Hahn said that Jayson Tatum is not in the same league as LeBron James. No kidding, Alan. LeBron James is the leading scorer in NBA history, a man who has defined the sport for two decades. Hahn doubled down however, stating that Tatum is not in the same league as Luka Doncic.

Doncic is an immensely skillful player, but that’s about it. His Mavericks are in the conference finals for only the second time in his career. He has taken his team absolutely nowhere. Doncic is the is the Josh Allen of the NBA. Super stats, but not a sniff of a conference championship to his credit. His name is Luca, and he lives on the second bill to Tatum.

On the May 22 edition of First Take, Stephen A. Smith noted that Jayson Tatum scored 12 points in the Game 1 overtime period, but also added that Tatum shot 2-10 in the fourth quarter and early in overtime.

Fair enough, but he then stated, “You’re looking for him, and he was nowhere to be found when it really counted.” Huh? So, it didn’t really count in overtime? Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and the Pacers was a tremendous NBA playoff game, one that should go down in history as a classic.

Instead, it became a springboard for continued unfounded Celtics trashing. Not every competitive NBA game is perfect. Teams make mistakes and miss shots. That’s basketball.

Game 2 saw the Celtics drub the Pacers 126-110 making them 10-2 in the playoffs with multiple trustworthy players delivering in the clutch. This series might end in 4 or 5 games, or could go 7, but to once again paraphrase Draymond Green, nobody cares as long as you win. Despite the baseless media negativity, that is exactly what the Celtics have been doing.

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Ken LaVicka Looks Ahead Following ESPN West Palm Exit

“The last thing I wanted to do was bus throw.”

Derek Futterman

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Ken LaVicka
Courtesy: ESPN West Palm

Although April Fool’s Day had recently taken place, the message Ken LaVicka was delivering on the air early in the month was hardly a joking matter. In an announcement that came as a shock to listeners and LaVicka himself, he revealed that he was leaving ESPN West Palm after 17 years with the outlet. For the last three years, he was the co-host of the popular LaVicka, Theo and Stone midday program, which provided local listeners with discussion and revelry surrounding sports in South Florida and in the United States as a whole.

While it was insinuated to LaVicka that there were financial reasons for the exit, the entire move left him uneasy and uncomfortable, suddenly finding himself out of regular hosting work and looking for a new job. After all, he had been appearing on the air for the Good Karma Brands-owned radio station since 2007, one year after he completed college at Valparaiso University. Over the years at the outlet, he augmented his standing through shifts as an update anchor and fill-in host to eventually being granted his own full-time hosting slot.

The audience within the West Palm Beach and Treasure Coast marketplace had become accustomed to his voice and opinions for more than a decade, making the move difficult for both parties involved. In fact, as LaVicka was divulging the news in the last 20 minutes of what was his final show on the station, he articulated that it was not only he and his partners losing the midday show, but those listeners that encompass the audience as well.

“It was ultimately a corporate decision,” LaVicka said. “It was definitely not mutual. I would prefer to still be at ESPN West Palm. I am unhappy that I’m not at ESPN West Palm, but hey, we’ve been in the business a long time. I’ve seen a lot of friends end up losing jobs over decisions that come from a much higher paygrade, and so I think that ultimately that’s what happened to me.”

When reflecting back on the circumstances that led to his departure from the station, LaVicka believes that he was seen as expendable. Outside of his hosting work, LaVicka is a play-by-play announcer for Florida Atlantic University and calls NWSL soccer matches on various digital platforms. Although LaVicka is appreciative of the company’s belief for him to find his footing again, he is crestfallen to be off the air but conducted himself with professionalism throughout his egress.

“The last thing I wanted to do was bus throw,” LaVicka said. “Was I disappointed? Absolutely. Was I bitter? For sure, and I still feel bitterness towards the situation that unfolded. But I also think that the positives of the opportunities afforded to me by Good Karma Brands for almost 20 years, and also at the end them trying to, while making a tough decision that was going to have an adverse effect on me, try and do it in the most professional and classy way possible that you could in that spot, it kind of allowed me this freedom.”

There exists a dichotomy between LaVicka’s time at ESPN West Palm ending and that of the midday program itself. Upon discovering that he would not be retained, he made this distinction and felt despondency towards having to leave his co-hosts Theo Dorsey and Stone Labanowitz. The broad age cohort on the program and varying perspectives on sports was an aspect that LaVicka believes engendered a unique offering on the air. LaVica has been at the station the longest among the trio, and his partners understood the importance of having the ability to say goodbye to the listeners through the platform.

LaVicka remembers starting at the outlet and describes the first office he worked out of as an “absolute closet,” but it proved to be a place where the business continued to flourish. Originally being from Chicago, Ill., he adjusted to living in southern Florida while also having an ability to focus on growing his career.

The perception that he had of sports talk radio when he was studying in college and participating in the student-run radio station differed from what he ultimately experienced working at ESPN West Palm. It was preceded by a year working at then-FOX Sports 100.5 FM in Madison, Wisc., also owned by Good Karma Brands. LaVicka accepted the role three days before he was supposed to move to Dickinson, N.D. to work as a sportswriter for The Dickinson Press, deciding to pursue his passion in radio.

Nearly two decades later, he evinces an ongoing, axiomatic shift pertaining to multimedia consumption and content creation. LaVicka believes it has become more difficult for terrestrial radio outlets to find businesses who want to associate with their work and delivery methods, although it is dependent on the marketplace. The apprehension he possesses in this regard, however, is in whether talented young people will be able to secure and subsequently capitalize off opportunities.

“Local radio will not die,” LaVicka prognosticated. “It’s still too much of a bonding entity for it to go away completely, but the expectations of how much money a local station can bring in just using traditional means as its way of bringing in income – there’s going to have to be some forward thinkers in that local radio space because you can’t just go, ‘The person goes on air – sell sponsorships’ It doesn’t work like that anymore.”

LaVicka himself is currently looking for a new role in the industry and is not opposed to moving out of south Florida if the opportunity is right for him and his family. Since losing his job at ESPN West Palm, he has endured many sleepless nights and pondered over the amount of fortitude and patience he has within the process.

Even though he is not ruling out an eventual return to ESPN West Palm, he views the outcome as unlikely. The value working there, however, comes in being able to relate and appeal to a diverse, transient audience residing within the locale. Good Karma Brands is assisting him with the process by promoting his work and providing him with financial assistance as he prepares for his next career move.

“I don’t want to come off as cocky, but I’m very confident in myself that given an opportunity; given a role – a sizable role that is something that’s going to be consumed by a lot of people – I get that opportunity, I’m going to excel in it,” LaVicka said. “There hasn’t been any point in my career on air where I haven’t been given an opportunity and then it didn’t completely expand past I think what the initial expectation was, and this includes my time at Florida Atlantic.”

While LaVicka is open to opportunities in terrestrial radio, he is also exploring working in the digital realm and recently started a YouTube show with WQAM digital content producer Zach Krantz titled By All Accounts. LaVicka first met Krantz at Miami Dolphins practices and training camps when he was working on The Joe Rose Show, and they shared several laughs and memorable moments.

When LaVicka and his wife welcomed their second child into the world, it required a stint in the neonatal intensive care unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. Their newborn daughter ended up spending 72 hours there where her health improved. Krantz discovered the circumstance shortly after it began and reached out to LaVicka to offer his support, understanding the stress with the situation after his son was in the NICU for several months.

“[He] made sure to come find me at the hospital and put me at ease [and] talked me through the process,” LaVicka said, “and that was massively important to me, had a major effect on me and also gave me an idea of the type of person Zach Krantz is.”

Krantz came up with the idea to start a program with LaVicka, reaching out to him shortly after his exit from ESPN West Palm. Within his proposition, he explained that they already possessed strong chemistry and rapport and would work together to begin a show from phase one. Despite the program still being in its early stages, LaVicka can sense palpable growth potential that could perhaps turn into its own sustainable entity if it continues to grow. The venture is not evanescent, but rather something he is committed to growing in the long run as he discovers the media landscape and searches for the most optimal long-term solution.

“I want this thing to be broad,” LaVicka said. “I want it to be fun, but I think that I also want to make sure that it at least plays to our strengths, which is being petty sports fans; which is showing favor to South Florida sports, making sure that we’re being extremely relatable in the grand scheme of things.”

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How Advertisers Can Protect Their Digital Ad Spend

Invalid website traffic from automated scripts and “bad bots” will waste $71 billion this year.

Jeff Caves

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Graphic for digital advertising

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) partnering with digital marketing companies for their ad spend can enjoy significant advantages. Digital companies, such as many radio stations’ digital departments, often have more expertise than SMBs in spending money wisely to generate website traffic and, crucially, in avoiding the waste of ad dollars on fake traffic. Fake website traffic has increased by 33% in just two years. Invalid website traffic (IVT) from automated scripts and “bad bots” will waste $71 billion this year. Here are some questions advertisers can ask their digital partner to help eliminate fake ad engagement:

Make Data and Machines Work

Ask your digital partner if they use advanced data analytics and machine learning to optimize your ad spend. By employing predictive analytics—predicting future outcomes—savvy digital marketers can identify audiences most likely to engage genuinely with your ads. Inquire if they use Google Analytics and how it can help flag potential fraud and protect your investment.

Blockchain Technology for Ad Verification

To ensure transparency and security in your ad campaigns, some digital marketers leverage blockchain technology. This technology records every click and impression, guaranteeing that each interaction is genuine and that payments are made only for verified interactions. Blockchain makes it more difficult to change, hack, or manipulate data.

Advanced Attribution Models

Check if your partner uses multi-touch attribution models, which consider all touchpoints in the customer’s journey to your website. This approach provides a comprehensive view of how each ad contributes to conversions. Algorithmic attribution models apply sophisticated algorithms to improve ROI measurement.

Partnerships with Anti-Fraud Organizations

Ask if they collaborate with anti-fraud organizations to reduce fraud in digital advertising. Some digital companies ensure that campaigns and partners are certified by organizations like TAG, guaranteeing that ad placements are genuine and not plagued with fake engagements.

Private Marketplaces

Ensure that ad placements are with trusted publishers, reducing the risk of fraud. Some digital companies use private marketplaces, where a limited number of advertisers can buy and access premium inventory that is less susceptible to fraud, ensuring higher-quality ad placements for your business.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) and Enhanced Filters

Your digital partner should set criteria for real-time bidding to ensure only high-quality, vetted traffic is considered. Real-Time Bidding is an auction setting where ad impressions are sold and bought. And transactions occur within seconds. Once an advertiser’s bid wins the auction, their digital ad is instantaneously shown on the website or property of the publisher.

Dynamic bidding strategies can adjust in real time based on the quality and performance of the inventory, maximizing the efficiency of your ad spend. Attempting this on your own can be challenging and less effective.

Focus on User Engagement Metrics

Ensure that deeper engagement metrics are employed, such as time spent on a page, scroll depth, and interaction rates, to provide a clearer picture of ad effectiveness. Analyzing post-click behavior helps determine the quality of engagements, ensuring that clicks result in meaningful interactions.

By partnering with well-established digital marketing companies, SMBs can access advanced technologies and strategies to ensure that digital marketing efforts are practical and efficient. Make sure your website conversions are as high as possible. YouTube and Google Search are leading the way in combating bot traffic, while LinkedIn, Google Video Partners, and X are less effective at blocking “bad bots.” Finding a reliable digital partner is crucial to protecting your ad spend and maximizing your returns. Beware of the bad bot and ensure your advertising efforts drive genuine value.

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