Advertising Technology

Viewability, spoofing but also some good times

In a statement that was actually reassuring to those in the viewability fight, the IAB said this week that reaching 100 percent right now just isn't possible; but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep shooting for it. There's some key information publishers need to know about domain spoofing. Finally, this is a good time to be in the online ad industry, and those good times should continue.

  • IAB: 100% Viewability of Digital Ads Is ‘Not Yet Possible' (Ad Age) – Based on current industry technology and measurement systems, the IAB said this week that expecting campaigns with 100 percent viewable impressions just isn't feasible. Despite that, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said the organization still “supports the goal of ad campaigns in which every impression meets the viewability standard.”
  • The Publisher's Guide To Domain Spoofing (AdExchanger) – Bots aren't the only thing publishers need to worry about when it comes to ad fraud. Also rampant is the practice of domain spoofing when, in addition to skimming of ad revenue that should be coming their way, the villains are also taking advantage of the good reputations of proper publishers everywhere.
  • Good Times Continue for Online Advertising (Wall Street Journal) – The ad tech industry isn't all doom and gloom. It's a pretty good time, actually, to be in the game. Internet ad spending has set an new high-water mark as much of the growth is being attributed to increasing trust brands have in the system.

By |December 19th, 2014|Advertising Technology|0 Comments

IAB: 100% ad viewability measurment not possible (yet)

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) this week released the “State of Viewability Transaction 2015,” a position paper offering the digital media and advertising industries guidance on how to manage the shift of digital media's “audience currency” to 100 percent viewability.

The IAB statement heralds the collaboration among the digital trade association, the ANA, and the 4As that has stewarded the historic change in advertising measurement, but labels 2015 a “year of transition,” and calls on advertising agencies, publishers, marketers, and advertising technology companies to work together to assure the new currency can be implemented by all companies in the digital advertising ecosystem. The paper reiterates a statement made in October by the Media Rating Council (MRC), the organization charged by the industry with managing the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) processes, that 100 percent viewability is “unreasonable for advertisers, agencies and publishers implementing viewable impressions as measurement currency to expect to observe viewable rates of 100% in analyses of their campaigns.”

“It's time to set the record straight about what is technically and commercially feasible, in order to get ourselves on an effective road to 100 percent viewability and greater accountability for digital media,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “The MRC said it best – 100 percent is currently unreasonable. Why? Because, different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors and measurement methodologies yield wildly different viewability numbers.”

“Publishers, agencies, marketers, and ad tech companies can resolve these differences by working collaboratively to make measurement make sense. We won't do it by holding guns to each others' heads,” he added.

To foster stronger collaboration and build trust, the IAB recommends that marketers, agencies, and publishers adhere to the following seven principles during 2015:

  1. All billing should continue to be based on the number of Served Impressions during a campaign and these should be separated into two categories: Measured and Non-Measured.
  2. Given the limitations of current technology, and the publisher observed variances in measurement of 30-40%, it is recommended that in this year of transition, Measured Impressions be held to a 70% viewability threshold.
  3. If a campaign does not achieve the 70% viewability threshold for Measured Impressions, publishers should be willing to make good with additional Viewable Impressions until the threshold is met. Such a guarantee assures that all paid measurable ad impressions will be viewable at a threshold that both exceeds the minimum standard and falls within observed variances.
  4. All make-goods should be in the form of additional Viewable Impressions, not cash, and should be delivered in a reasonable time frame. Make-good impressions should be both Viewable and generally consistent with inventory that was purchased in the original campaign. Determination of threshold achievement is based on total campaign impressions, not by each line item. In other words, some line items may not achieve threshold, but others can compensate.
  5. For large format ads, defined as 242,500 pixels or over, a Viewable Impression is counted if 30% of the pixels of the ad are viewable for a minimum of one continuous second, as noted in the “MRC Viewable Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines.”
  6. All transactions between buyers and sellers should use MRC accredited vendors only.
  7. A buyer and a seller should agree on a single measurement vendor ahead of time. The industry aspires to variances of no more than 10% between viewability measures provided by different vendors. All stakeholders must avoid costly, labor-intensive, error-prone manual processes of reconciling different sets of viewability numbers, hence the benefits of agreeing on a single vendor.

“The entire industry came together to provide true accountability through a single viewability measurement,” said Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next (formerly the Online Publishers Association). “At this point in time, it's critical that all parties adhere to the MRC standard and provide for a period of transition while the systems catch up. On behalf of all premium publishers, I commend the IAB's shepherding the industry through this phase.”

To read the entire “State of Viewability Transaction 2015” statement, go to

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. The organization is committed to professional development, elevating the knowledge, skills, and expertise of individuals across the digital marketing industry. The IAB also educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City.

By |December 17th, 2014|Advertising Technology|0 Comments

Technorati cracks Top 25 in Pixalate’s Global Seller Trust Index

As advertisers lose billions to ad fraud,
Technorati network focuses on inventory quality

Ad fraud is costing advertisers billions in misspent campaign dollars, making imperative the need for transparency on all sides and concentrated efforts to clean up the ecosystem.

Technorati has long focused on combating the rise of fraud traffic and creating a network that truly benefits both advertisers and publishers. As a result, when Pixalate released its latest Global Sellers Trust Index, Technorati was among the Top 25 of the more than 400 active sellers rated.

The Association of National Advertisers, in concert with White Ops, this week put forth a study that projects more than $6 billion in losses over the next year for advertisers as a result of ad fraud. As programmatic advertising continues to grow, so does the opportunity for bad players to game the system.

“Maintaining network quality is paramount because Technorati holds a crucial spot between buyers and sellers,” Technorati CEO Shani Higgins said. “Being transparent and creating trust in the system takes a major step in ensuring those on boths sides of the equation know they can transact with confidence. We take our role in the effort to improve the value of digital advertising very seriously.”

The high ranking recognizes Technorati's efforts to build and maintain its network quality. These efforts include deploying a site-vetting process that involves checking each domain against partner blacklists as well as an internal scoring system. To ensure the continued quality of the traffic of approved sites, Technorati uses Forensiq, which samples portions of every publishers' inventory. If needed, team members also work with publishers to help them clean up their own inventory.

In addition to algorithms and technology, quality assurance personnel run daily reports across multiple platforms to double-check that publishers are selling inventory from approved sources only.

Technorati's ranking comes from top-level performances in categories like ad engagement (86), viewability (83) and fraud (80), according to the December 2014 release. Each category is measured on a 100-point scale.

Pixalate's Index “assigns ratings based on a critical range of quality measurements drawn from proprietary quality analysis of billions of global impressions daily” and “is designed to bring trust and transparency to RTB to empower the success of the programmatic marketplace.” In order to compile its ratings, Pixalate — which is a member of the IAB and is MRC certified — monitors billions of ad events daily by tapping into the RTB data stream.

About Technorati

Technorati is an advertising technology company that rewards the creators of great content. Technorati accomplishes this by providing content creators a powerful data and decisioning platform to accelerate revenue so they can spend less time managing sales and more time producing valuable content.

By |December 15th, 2014|Advertising Technology|0 Comments

Report: Injection, content duplication leads to lost ad revenue for top pubs

As it turns out, ad fraud knows no strangers.

A comprehensive study by the Association of National Advertisers, focusing heavily on bot traffic, illustrated the extent to which a surprise group of publishers were part of the ad fraud game.

Previously thought to be above the fray when it comes to ad fraud, it was discovered that a large percentage of it occurred on premium publisher sites.

Traffic from premium publishers consists of almost 20 percent bots. While much of that can be linked to sourced traffic, often it's the publishers who are victims of ad-fraud attacks, according to the study which was released by the ANA in conjunction with WhiteOps, a platform for reducing fraud traffic.

One of the top methods used to attack a website and use its legitimate traffic for fraud was ad injection, when a browser plug-in “inserts” ads into publishers' sites, without permission and without payment to those publishers. To a buyer that has whitelisted a particular domain, it looks like that domain's inventory when, in fact, it isn't. In many cases the ad may be hidden — a pop-up/under, an overlay, etc. — and the performance (or lack there of) is credited to that domain though the publisher of that domain has no control of or benefit from the impression(s).

One case study showed that more than 500,000 ads were injected daily on a top-tier publisher's site. Ads were found to have even been injected on subscriptions-based sites that promise an ad-free environment for users.

Injected ads also ruin the user experience, cause slower load times, and deliver an overabundance of ads (often highly-intrusive to the user). This type of ad injection is just as bad (if not worse) for the user as it is for the publisher, especially considering the infection is often rooted in the user's computer.

“(These) ads were displayed using malware illicitly installed on residential computers,” the report stated. “Victims of malware-driven ad injection inadvertently expose private information. Malware-driven ad injection software on the victim's computer allows potentially malicious, unknown actors to gain access to personally identifiable information (PII), including browsing history, interests, and financial information.”

Publishers receive no money for ads injected on their site, as the payment for those served ads goes instead to the operator of the malware.

One way publishers can protect themselves is through the use of true domain technology, which “identifies the actual domain on which an ad displays, rather than the domain reported by the ad server, which can be falsified,” the report said.

Copying content from premium sites and selling ads around that content is another form of ad fraud that harms publishers, where fraudsters set up bogus sites with stolen content that still manage to get some amount of human traffic (along with sourced traffic that also can include bots). Of the most bot-trafficked sites in the study, 22 percent were found to have had duplicated content. Fraudsters set up a website, and can sometimes rip off a legitimate publisher's content in bulk in order to draw search traffic away from the original publisher. Ads are served on that site, to bots and humans alike, and the ad revenue goes to the thief instead of the original publisher of the work.

The first step in protecting yourself from this type of fraud is to be aware if your content is being stolen. Hubspot has a great rundown about ways to find out. Taking it a step further, KissMetrics illustrates ways you can combat content theft.

Download a copy of the full report here.

By |December 10th, 2014|Advertising Technology|0 Comments

ANA study shows widespread bot fraud; premium pubs not safe

At current rates, online ad fraud will cost display and video advertisers more than $6 billion next year in frittered away spending.

This is according to a report released by Association of National Advertisers in partnership with WhiteOps, a platform for weeding out fraudulent ad traffic.

This study was quite massive. It comprised of 181 campaigns from 36 advertisers, which looked at more than 5.5 billion impressions over 3 million domains.

The expected losses make up more than 12 percent of the roughly $48 billion spent on display and video ads worldwide.

For a time, cash lost to ad fraud was thought of as an inconvenient tax on the system. But as that “tax” is now clearing 10 percent (a higher rate than any single state in the U.S. collects for sales tax, by the way), all industry players are trying to figure out how to stamp it out.

This report offers a little more insight into how these fraudsters work, how widespread the problem is, what sites are most targeted, and even some information the industry as a whole might use against them.

First, the infiltration: 11 percent of all display ads were served to bots (17% of the serving was done programmatically), and 23 percent of the video impressions were served to bots. Bots were even re-targeted for 19 percent of the ads served.

When it comes to which publishers are being targeted, the findings may come as a surprise. It turns out, premium publishers serve almost 20 percent of bot traffic. And some campaigns are completely trash.

“One premium, well-known publisher in the lifestyle industry vertical employed a web page layout consisting of a single large video player at the top of the page. Seemingly random selections of content surrounded the autoplaying video on the page,” the report stated. “On this publisher page, video ads for an auto participant in the study were consumed by a 98 percent bot audience. Out of almost 4,000 total video impressions from the placement, fewer than 100 were
served to humans.”

Small percentages of many campaigns going to bots might be something the ad buyers have been willing to put up with that in the past. However, the chance that an entire campaign could be served to bots could cause some serious concern for those on the buy-side.

In order to cut out the bots, the industry must first have an understanding about where the traffic is coming from.

One thought is that much of bot fraud came from huge computer farms, just creating false clicks around the clock. ANA's report, however, showed that a majority of the fraudulent traffic came from infected home computers. More than 67 percent of the bot traffic came from residential IP addresses.

The report also came with it some actionable data.

One interesting datapoint was that there was unrealistic amounts of middle-of-the-night traffic, with the report stating about “half the bots caught were not sophisticated enough to keep daylight hours.” Traffic spiked between midnight and 6 a.m. This would seem to be a finding that could help reduce traffic fraud. Older web browsers were also represented higher in the bot traffic.

Also take note that traffic purchased from third-parties, usually not even a good idea, came with it as much as 52 percent bots. This was the top trackable source for traffic in the study.

The report also concluded with possible action plans for both the buy and sell-sides of the online ad ecosystem. Those suggestions included using traffic-monitoring services and update blacklists frequently.

Download a copy of the full report here.

By |December 9th, 2014|Advertising Technology|0 Comments