It's been less than two years since former Aperture executive Scott Knoll was brought in as AdSafe's CEO. Knoll has just introduced his biggest change to date: After today, the brand "AdSafe" is no more. Instead, the company will now be known as Integral Ad Science.
In a sense, the move codifies a shift that Knoll began talking about months ago, namely that ad verification, which typically involves post-campaign reporting that tells an advertiser where their ads ran, should instead anticipate where a placement will be more effective before the campaign begins. That said, Knoll was quick say that the rebranded AdSafe would not abandon verification altogether.
Knoll told AdExchanger, "At first, we kind of all laughed about changing the name. But over time, it became a real question, because we feel we actually do have a greater sphere of influence in the space and wanted to make sure that we're known for more than just protecting clients from being surrounded by inappropriate inventory."
The timing of the change is related to the introduction of a new product called TRAQ (True Advertising Quality) Score, a metric that encompasses the inventory environment and data around audience exposure.
"We're not getting out of the ad verification, ad safety business -- we still have 500 clients using those tools," Knoll said. "But we're using that as a base to expand what we're doing. Everything we've done in the past was about serving as a filter for where not to put their ads. We're now shifting our model to instead help both buyers and sellers figure out where best to put their advertising."
He said the focus has expanded to include solutions for viewability, preventing ad collision, identifying contextual classifications, and suspicious activity prevention.
The name change and the debut of the TRAQ metric comes a few months after the company, along with rival ad effectiveness providers Moat and DoubleVerify, were sued over patents claimed by comScore. There hasn't been much public activity around the lawsuit since the summer, and when asked, Knoll said the timing of this announcement had nothing to do with the legal battle. Nevertheless, the suit was a sign of the intensifying competition among this group of analytics companies to differentiate themselves.
Secondly, the move is also meant to signify that AdSafe/Integral Ad Science, is evolving and adapting to clients' increasing demands for ROI before, not after, they embark on an online ad campaign.
"TRAQ does represent of what we've done and where we've been going as a company," Knoll said. "We're looking at every page out there and creating a baseline measurement of whether something's going to be deemed as a quality placement for a brand."
Among the page factors the TRAQ score will consider are ad viewability, the number of ads on a page, the size of those ads, and the quality of the content. Content quality can include sentence structure, misspellings, and professionalism. "We can also analyze the HTML code -- was the page crafted by custom developers or was it produced by one person with a simple tool?"
As for the description of the new brand, Knoll wants Integral Ad Science to be considered a "media valuation platform," a neutral term intended to highlight that 50 percent of the company's clients are buyers and 50 percent are sellers.
"For publishers, the value we present is that we can tell them which parts of their site are more valuable, which should help them price more effectively," Knoll said. "And that will help buyers understand what areas of that publisher's site will do a better job helping them build their brand as well. We see our scoring method as being a major factor in how marketers bid on placements. For example, you're typically bidding $4 on a retargeting cookie in a real time bidding exchange. Our data could tell you to bid $6 because it's in a higher quality environment, or $1.50 if it turns out to be a lower quality area. We think serving both sides equally is a win for everyone."