With GeoEdge’s new Ad Matrix, 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 publishers ad content is key to how their audience perceives their brand. Understandably, no publisher wants to stamp a “Danger: Beware of Deceptive Content” warning label on their site. Instead, when deceptive, inappropriate, or offensive ads slip through the programmatic net, users are startled and immediately driven off the page.
This year has already been a record year for deceptive advertising, and publishers are coming to realize, ad quality is about even more than the ad itself. It’s about content–on the publisher’s page and beyond. Ad content quality is a core piece of the ad quality, and as we navigate the current era of psychological redirects and deceptive offers – ad content requires industry-wide attention.
Deceptive Ads: A New Ad Quality Next Front
The phenomenon of deceptive ads is a long-standing issue on the ad quality front for publishers. Ultimately, these are ads where the creative displays one message, but the ad links out to a landing page with completely unrelated or low-quality content. This is a classic bait-and- switch maneuver used by scammers in the ad ecosystem. Before the COVID pandemic, we commonly saw fake ads touting tabloid-variety celebrity news — salacious or “tragic” teasers labeled misleadingly as “news” items. Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve seen another common variation of that tactic, where ads displaying face masks may lead to landing pages that have nothing to do with face masks. Now, in the long leadup to the 2020 US election, we have similarly seen misleading political ads that link out to questionable sites with blatantly false and misleading content.
As deceptive ads continue to flood publishers’ sites, GeoEdge has warned the industry of deceptive ads falling into three broad categories.
- In one category, there is no correlation between the ad creative and the content of the landing page it leads to.
- In the second, the ad leads to a landing page that is related to the ad creative, but the landing page content is low-quality — poorly-made or fraudulent products, misinformation, salacious content, etc.
- In the third, the ad leads out to phishing scams, links to download malicious code, and other tactics meant to harm the user and enrich criminal enterprises.
What does improved ad content transparency actually mean and how can it be made tangible and accessible for publishers?
Welcome to the Ad Matrix
With a new tool under their belt, publishers no longer need to choose between ad revenue and their readers. With GeoEdge’s Ad Matrix, the black box is turning into the glass box — allowing total visibility when it comes to ads served on their sites.
Many publishers find the time they spend on QA is complicating workflow and revenue optimization. Here is where Ad Matrix steps in — Ad Matrix provides a grid of all ads served on publishers sites and direct access to the ads landing page in real-time.
Ad Matrix provides an opportunity for publishers to review the content of an ad, especially useful in cases of IP infringement including the latest Morphixx malvertising credit card scam attacking Japan, Europe, And the US, where celebrities faces were used to promote salacious content. As well as competitor ads and general direct or programmatic selling.
Publishers Owe QA to Their Audiences, the Law, and Their Own Business
When we talk about publishers’ liability here, we’re talking not about responsibility to users, but responsibility and accountability in a legal sense. Publishers are legally liable for the ads they host on their sites. This liability extends to any landing pages their sites link out to, including landing pages linked to via the ads they host.
The FTC enforces truth-in-advertising laws. Further legal issues around IP infringement arise when the content, including ad creative, contains the image of a public figure who has not granted the right to use their likeness for this purpose. Scammy or misleading ads frequently use photos, without permission, of celebrities or other public figures in an attempt to give their ads the appearance of legitimacy or authority.
All of these ad quality issues – deceptive ads, brand-unsafe ads, predatory offers, phantom product ads, ads for substandard products — are user experience issues that devalue quality publishers’ sites and put publishers’ relationships with the audiences at risk. These issues are exacerbated still by the amount of time users are spending in front of screens while working from home, underemployed, making their purchases online rather than in stores, or simply researching ways to deal with the pandemic’s effects. In this equation, users are sitting ducks that bad actors are willingly preying upon.
Who’s Responsible for Ad Quality?
It is impossible to fully separate the publisher’s site from the ads on that 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 publishers 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.
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.