Ad Content Quality: From Black Box to Glass Box

With GeoEdge’s new Ad-Watch, the black box is turning into the glass box — allowing total visibility when it comes to ads served on publishers’ sites.

In a world that sees content as king, a publisher’s ad content is key to how their audience perceives their brand. Understandably, no publisher wants to stamp a “Danger, Beware” warning label on their site. Instead, when unwanted ads slip through their QA, users are startled and immediately driven off the page.

Programmatic has ushered in a new era of efficiency but with that comes a loss of control and transparency. Now, publishers are coming to realize, ad quality is about even more than the ad itself. It’s about content, on-page and beyond.

Ad content quality is a core piece of ad quality, and as we navigate churning seas, ad content requires industry-wide attention.

The “Trade-Off”

As more publishers funnel their inventory through programmatic channels, there’s a growing demand for greater transparency and control. Today, publishers leave much of their real estate in the hands of third-party advertising companies, forced to manually refresh pages in order to view the ads’ served. 

While this third-party ad serving system is necessary to fill ad inventory and to generate greater revenue – the flip side leads to user and brand harm, and sometimes ruin. Simply put, the pros and cons of programmatic are often boiled down to a simple trade-off between efficiency and control.

Brand safety is often solely defined as an advertiser’s issue — but publishers are brands too. Websites and apps can be damaged by the wrong adjacencies, suffering diminished reputations and depleted revenue. And just like advertisers need to carefully vet where their content goes, publishers need a better sense of what content appears on their pages.

The good news is– efficiency and control are not in a “seesaw” relationship, if one goes up the other doesn’t automatically drop down. As ad quality QA is a serious and time-consuming task,  the key to maximizing both efficiency and control lies in the tools you have in place. 

Understanding Your Inventory 

When we talk about publishers regaining control, we’re talking about maximum visibility and customization– it’s about empowering publishers to be in the driver’s seat, armed with the right tools.

GeoEdge’s CEO Amnon Siev says: “Publishers have different levels of tolerance when it comes to ad quality — brand or user experience issues, the image of the website, legal exposure or compliance regulations — and publishers need granular filtering and to be able to define exactly which ads they want, and don’t want, to appear.

Publishers need the ability to define the ad content they deem appropriate to appear on their sites. Ultimately each publisher has its own business strategy– and tolerance levels will differ between more family-oriented publishers and more liberal websites. A granular approach to identifying and blocking deceptive ads will serve to protect the vital revenue that readers’ perception of value drives, one-page view at a time.  

What does improved ad content control actually mean and how can it be made tangible and accessible for publishers?

Welcome to the Ad Watch 

Until now, selling programmatically involved a certain degree of compromise for publishers, where opting for one selling approach meant missing out on the benefits of another.

With a new tool under their belt, publishers no longer need to choose between ad revenue and their users. With GeoEdge’s Ad Matrix, the black box is turning into the glass box — providing total visibility when it comes to ads served on their sites.

Many publishers find the time they spend on QA is inefficient as they don’t have complete insight into what their users see. Here is where Ad-Watch steps in — Ad-Watch provides a grid view of all ads served on publisher’s sites and direct access to the ads landing page in real-time. Direct access to the ads landing page enables ad ops teams to evaluate not only the ad content but the page content in real-time.  

The Ad-Watch provides an opportunity for publishers to view at least 98% of the ads served and then review, block or approve ads and advertisers, as well as share ads with the demand partners in an efficient manner. 

Providing ad ops teams with an operational tool as comprehensive as the Ad-Watch is particularly useful in cases of IP infringement where celebrities are used to promote salacious content, as well as competitor ads and general direct or programmatic selling.

Who’s Responsible for Ad Quality?

Traditionally, ad quality was an ad-ops concern, yet given its huge impact on publishers’ bottom line, including brand image, user loyalty, overall performance and revenue, this is now a management decision as it impacts the entire business performance.

For users, it’s impossible to fully separate a publisher from the ads on their site, and in turn from any of the landing pages behind any of those ads. Meanwhile, brand safety is in the eye of the beholder—it all depends on what is or is not appropriate for the brand. When it comes to individual brands, knowing exactly what content a campaign includes can prove highly useful to publishers who aim to align their ad content with their page content.

It’s hard to quantify reputational damage, but the erosion of user trust is near impossible to get back once it’s gone. When the user clicks through a seemingly innocuous ad and is surprised to end up on a highly partisan page, or a page with adult content, they may close out that site in seconds–but they will remember which publisher’s site they came from.

The bottom line is that publishers have a responsibility to their users to provide positive, relevant experiences. It’s a liability to the publisher when an ad links out to a site the publisher shouldn’t be associated with.

With GeoEdges Ad Matrix, publishers add another tool to their toolkit and gain visibility into all ads and accompanying landing pages served on their sites.

Choosing an Ad Quality Vendor: A Publishers Checklist

Choosing an ad quality vendor requires publishers to review a detailed checklist; the most important features include:

  • Pinpoint detection- A trusted security partner needs the capability to constantly monitor the ad ecosystem, detect known threats to security, hone in on emerging threats, and block them with precision, well before they reach the publisher’s page.
  • Ad content quality management- By evaluating ad content and landing page content, a trusted ad quality partner will offer flexible customization options to ensure your ad content is aligned with your page content. Protecting your brand with ads that are customized for your audience is key.
  • Lightweight integration- When you know you need best-in-class security solutions, you have no time to waste. A trusted security partner needs to offer easy, fast integration that starts working for you immediately and doesn’t take your teams away from their important work.
  • Insights across multiple publisher sites and platforms – Security threats are best understood in the context of the digital ecosystem at large. In order to understand known threats and detect emerging threats, a security solution needs to trace hackers back to their source – detecting hackers no matter what path they choose.

New quality issues are too vast for the publishers to effectively manage alone, partner with GeoEdge, and take the weight off.

Alisha is a Technology Writer and Marketing Manager at GeoEdge. Her writing focuses on current events in the AdTech ecosystem and cyberattacks served through the digital advertising supply chain. You can find Alisha on LinkedIn to discuss brand building and happenings in AdTech.

Malvertising, the practice of sprinkling malicious code into legitimate-looking ads is growing more sophisticated. GeoEdge’s holistic ad quality solution has you covered.


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