Why Ad Verification?
Ad verification, or validation as it is sometimes known, is often confused with the viewability solutions in the market that tend to be advertiser facing, but verification tech is designed as a publisher service.
Ad verification services typically come with a variety of tools that help automate a lot of the standard processes and procedures that Ad Ops teams would naturally perform at a publisher. That includes scanning tags for performance and content concerns, monitoring for sales channel conflict issues, and just ensuring there’s nothing broken in the user experience.
Fraud & Malware
Blatantly misleading or malicious advertising exists and the stakes are high, especially for the publisher since they own the relationship with the user. What veteran Ops professional doesn’t have a story about a small deal for a big brand with a small agency that came in at the end of the quarter, needed to launch ASAP on harried Friday, and turned out to be nothing but a hacker’s prank, redirecting to a virus-clogged landing page, spawning malicious code, and otherwise harming users.
Ad verification then is one of many technologies publishers can and should be using to manage the risk of running malware on their site. This is a risk for both direct campaigns and exchange campaigns. Every part of the ecosystem should have a strong incentive to find and eliminate malicious ad content as quickly as possible. However as these problems end with the publishers, who are the final link to the client, their incentive is even greater, and so is their load, as they are responsible for both 3rd party and direct campaigns. Given the high turnover of traffickers in the junior ranks, it can be tough to keep a tight process in place and teach rookies the warning signs to look out for.
Manage Ad Quality on the Exchange
Aside from the edge cases for malicious ads, it’s becoming a far more common problem to squash inappropriate ad content. With the proliferation of indirect sales channels like ad exchanges, it’s never been more complex to keep a handle on the ad content if you’re a digital publisher. A few years ago, the Ad Ops team could review each and every ad creative, or point the finger at a couple network partners to manage ad quality concerns, but no longer. Now publishers might still work with a handful of intermediaries, but in practice are exposed to hundreds of demand partners if they open their inventory to the exchange. It’s often good for business but adds risk to the organization.
And since most advertisers are buying narrow audiences defined by specific cookie pools, it’s par for the course for even small publishers to have thousands or even tens of thousands of advertisers running ads on their site. There’s no Ops team, no matter how well funded that could possibly review all the ads from indirect channels.
It isn’t just preventing pornographic images from running, which are universally blacklisted, it’s addressing the grey area. What’s appropriate for a motorcycle site might not be appropriate for a parenting site. How do publishers address alcohol, religious advertising, gambling, weight loss, or other categories that are full of legitimate advertisers but only acceptable to certain brands?
This is sure to only get more complicated in the future, as advertisers look more and more to RTB infrastructure as the preferred way to distribute, target and optimize their campaigns. Not only that, but publishers are likely finding they are making more money than ever on their international traffic than ever before. In years past, there was no way to source advertising demand for fractional pieces of traffic, but unlike the ad networks of yesteryear, exchanges are supply agnostic, and it doesn’t matter how many impressions you have to sell in obscure territories. While still small, it’s likely becoming the largest blind spot for Ops teams, since they’ve never had to manage it in the past.
Ad Performance and General QA
Finally, verification services often provide tools to measure how an ad tag performs against some pre-set limits that publishers define in their ad spec. Things like ensuring ads don’t start automatically playing with audio, don’t exceed certain file sizes, don’t consumer too much CPU to render, have polite download features set for video files, ensure click tags work, 3rd party macros are in place, and more.
Most major publishers have a detailed ad spec that covers all of these items, but could never find the time to actually check every ad against all those factors save the obvious. Verification services offer a way for publishers to monitor more ads for the egregious errors, and help advertisers identify problematic or broken tags in advance.
Learn more about GeoEdge’s ad verification platform, which helps publishers to protect their brand reputation and to ensure a high ad quality.