Publishers, practice safe ads

This post was written by Tobias Silber, director of marketing at GeoEdge

It’s easy for publishers to be lulled into a false sense of security. The Wild West of the early Internet has been tamed. Direct sellers and programmatic exchanges serve up mainly legitimate ads, weeding out inappropriate content via detailed vetting and ad specs. The problem is, not every ad can be eyeballed. Recently, Disney, Facebook and The Guardian discovered malicious malware in their ads.

The rise of indirect sales channels (like ad exchanges) has made it even more difficult for digital publishers to manage ad content. Ad Ops teams are challenged to review every ad creative prior to publication, and network partners have grown from a handful to several hundred. Of course, opening inventory to the exchange and dealing with hundreds of demand partners isn’t all bad. Indeed, it’s great for business. But it does make things a whole lot riskier.

Publishers should be employing an ad verification system to help their ad ops team automate standard processes and procedures. They should also use ad verification to effectively monitor and protect ad inventory. Here’s why.

Volume Control
The sheer volume of creative/banners that are sent to publishers by agencies and/or premium advertisers before a campaign goes live makes effective manual QA processes challenging. An automated ad verification system will not only reduce the time it takes to check creative, ad tags and landing pages prior to campaign launch (for quality and operational issues), but it will also be able to scan ad tags across various geographic locations.

Minimizing Third-Party Risks
For large publishers with larger inventory, there’s significant risk for bad ads to sneak through. Not only are large publishers responsible for direct campaigns, but also for third-party campaigns. Working with third-party channels makes publishers that much more vulnerable to malware, inappropriate content, data leakage and operational challenges. Ad verification can ensure quality for live campaigns delivered by dynamic third parties

On the other side of the scale, smaller publishers are prone to using ad networks and exchanges, opening themselves up to more advertisers, which then creates even more risk. The majority of advertisers purchase narrow audiences that are defined by specific cookie pools. Small publishers have thousands upon thousands of advertisers running ads on their site, yet it is virtually impossible for an Ad Ops team to review all indirect channel ads.

Setting Up Guardrails
As more advertisers begin to use RTB infrastructure to distribute, target and optimize their ads, publishers are going to have to rely more heavily on software that not only blacklists certain ads — like porn — but sets guardrails in the gray areas.

How should a publisher handle alcohol advertisements on a highly religious site? What about ads that play audio or exceed a specific file size? The answers to these questions vary from site to site. Ad verification helps set and enforce these guardrails.

Maintaining a quality ad ecosystem will enhance brand loyalty, user experience and publisher revenues. It’s better to head off problems before they start than to deal with the myriad issues once they arise.

Image via Shutterstock

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