Programmatic Transparency In AdTech: Problems & Solutions

The lack of transparency in programmatic is a major problem faced by publishers today. The ability to reveal data that would otherwise be left unseen, and may affect the overall advertising performance, is critical to most publishers and can be a true game-changer to those who utilize it.

Publishers often sell their ad inventory through Ad Exchanges, linking them with networks or agencies that manage their own advertisers. While this is an effective sales channel, it may not be enough. That is why in order to increase scale most Ad Exchanges allow linking partnerships. These are advertisers, networks and agencies (3rd- and 4th-party vendors etc.) linked through a chain of networks and agencies to the direct (managed) networks and agencies.

Offering publisher’s ad inventory to more buyers in this manner, provides an opportunity to increases sales and revenue and saves time, as there is no need to re-traffic ads every time a network or agency begin working with a new partner. However these linked partnerships also present many challenges and disadvantages, most of which are a result of transparency, or rather lack thereof. Even the publisher’s direct contact, the Ad Exchange seat holder, may not have full control over the information, and may not know how the inventory will be utilized.

It is for these reasons that publisher transparency has become such a major issue, affecting partners on most exchanges worldwide.

The diagram below demonstrates the flow of this process and how it effects ad quality . In brief, this is ‎the potential risk.‎


Ad Network's Linking Partnership

The publisher is responsible for setting the Ad Tag on the ‎website. From that point on, the Ad Tag is managed directly by the Ad Network that holds a seat on an ‎Ad Exchange. ‎

The Ad Tag is offered on the Ad Exchange with the aim of the optimal ad being served in the specific ‎location on the publisher’s webpage. The Ad Exchange then finds the best offer presented, based on ‎predictions, price, availability and other parameters, and delivers the ad. In a closed Ecosystem, where ‎both advertisers and publishers are managed, the chosen advertiser will come from a pre-registered ‎list, and the ad would be reviewed and verified to ensure that the publisher’s criteria are met.‎

In linked partnerships, the available offers lack much of the data available to the publisher in a ‎managed environment. In this case, though the publisher’s requested criteria are passed down to the ‎next network in line, the Ad Exchange seat holder, and so on, there is no real way to confirm the ‎content of the ad.‎

This may result in publishers receiving ads they did not request. A news publishing website can ‎request for example ads from all advertisers, excluding adult advertisers. Through this unmanaged ‎resell chain, this same publisher may unknowingly be served an unwanted ad due to flawed ‎categorization of the ad and advertiser.‎

The problem may extend even further if the linked partner has an agreement with another Ad ‎Network, acting as a 3rd tier ad supplier to the offered ad space. ‎

This resell structure is important in understanding the transparency problem when using Ad Tags in ‎linked partnerships. If the Ad Exchange seat holders do not maintain full transparency between all ‎parties, their agreements with publishers may be voided. This, in turn, will either damage publisher’s ‎revenues, or cause a loss in traffic as a result of bad ads.‎

For all of these reasons, it is vital for publishers to constantly review the ads served on their website, ‎ensuring the ads meet their criteria and targets. ‎

GeoEdge’s ad verification service enables publishers to view their full ad spectrum as well as their entire ‎‎3rd party eco-system. The ad verification service provides complete visibility of all ads served by any ad ‎network, in more than 130 geo-locations.

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