Rajeev Goel is CEO of PubMatic, a publisher yield optimization company.
With the development of so many sophisticated technical solutions to help online publishers minimize the risk of running malware and ads delivered to the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place, it is hard to believe that we still see the unwanted and often ugly teeth whitening and belly fat ads on top 100 websites.
The challenges that publishers face when trying to protect their brand from unwanted ads, malware, channel conflict and other issues that affect their ad revenue and user experience aren’t going away any time soon. In many cases, they are even growing. However, publishers can better protect themselves by having a good understanding of “bad ad” trends and what are the best solutions to prevent them.
You may remember not too long ago malware made headlines because it moved away from smaller, less-known sites and hit the mainstream – even the New York Times was affected by it. How does it happen? It varies. In the case of the New York Times, malware slipped through their direct sales force when an advertiser pretended to be someone they weren’t. Malware typically hits publishers the hardest at the beginning of the quarter – that’s when media budgets are the weakest and malware perpetrators can buy inventory from publishers at the lowest possible rate.
Malware isn’t the only type of bad ad. Another problem that publishers generally face are ads that come through demand partners, such as ad networks, that don’t meet the publisher’s pre-established creative criteria. While most ad networks do a good job of helping publishers to monetize what would otherwise be unsold inventory, incidents of unwanted ads will occur. Generally speaking, these unwanted ads occur at the end of the quarter when ad networks are trying to maximize delivery of campaigns before the budget is lost.
Leveraging tools that let publishers see what ads are going across their sites in different geographic locations across the globe can help pinpoint which ad network is delivering ads that a publisher doesn’t want, and action can be taken. It is important that publishers realize that in many cases these creative differences are just a misunderstanding, but when specific ad networks are repeat offenders that partnership should be terminated.
Keeping track of the actual performance of hundreds of ad networks and exchanges is a daunting task for any publisher. But it is vital since the threat of harmful advertising running on the publishers’ site is very real -- and could be potentially devastating to future ad sales, but more importantly to the publisher’s reputation.