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Ad Fraud Technology Brand Safety

AOL inks ad quality deal with DoubleVerify to assure advertisers its adtech stack is transparent


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

February 23, 2017 | 5 min read

With brand safety top of mind for most advertisers, AOL has today announced a partnership with DoubleVerify to better help advertisers assess the quality of inventory on the Verizon-owned outfit's One platform, as adtech suppliers clamor to show their transparent practices.


AOL hopes to distinguish itself from the industry's walled gardens

The partnership will see DoubleVerify ad quality data integrated to AOL’s platforms meaning programmatic ad buying technology such as demand-side platforms (DSP) can assess the quality of their inventory before they actually bid on a particular impression, thus reducing the likelihood of them wasting their media budgets.

DoubleVerify’s data solutions can be used to authenticate the quality media space in automated trading environments for brand safety, fraud, and viewability, and through the integration AOL hopes to distinguish itself from alternative automated trading environments on the market, namely the industry’s walled gardens.

The move follows a series of efforts from AOL to position itself as a serious rival to the dual hegemony of Facebook and Google (both of whom account for over half of all media spend on digital) with the advertising industry's largest names welcoming any such shakeup to the market.

Speaking with The Drum, Wayne Gattinella, DoubleVerify’s chief executive officer, said the partnership means his outfit's brand safety offering can he used in a pre-bid environment, and that in addition to brand safety, ad fraud is an issue that warrants constant monitoring as the proponents of bot-fraud are constantly innovating in nefarious ways.

“In open exchanges there’s a significant amount of fraud and low quality impressions,” he said, adding that one of the latest intricacies employed by such bad actors is to program bots to mimic human behaviors such as filling out identity forms, etc.

He further explained some of the fraudulent tactics employed by such bad actors (many of whom are thought to be part of organized crime groups) adding that many of the popular perceptions on the matter are outdated.

"Very often it's not big server farms that are generating these clicks," said Gattinella, adding that a common ploy of such fraudsters is to hijack consumers' machines by disguising malicious code as legitimate content.

Once this code is installed on a user's machine, fraudsters will then intermittently generate clicks from the machine (which are then very often sold via ad exchanges) in a manner engineered to avoid anti-fraud systems' detection.

"Fraud signatures fire up every 15 minutes ... you have to get in quick to spot it," he said while describing the need for constant monitoring.

The tie-up between the pair comes just weeks after an investigation by the Times of London exposed some of the shortcomings in the way agencies purchase digital media using adtech, with ads from Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Thomson Reuters shown to be served against inappropriate content.

This prompted the suspension of programmatic media trading from several of the brands implicated, and further added flames to the fire of brands increasingly scrutinizing their digital advertising spend.

Last month a World Federation of Advertisers report revealed that while agency trading desks may be the default way advertisers run programmatic campaigns but as many as 90% are set to review these deals after growing frustrated by the lack of transparency being offered.

In a further sign of the digital sector’s biggest media owners bowing to ‘buyer power’, earlier this week Google agreed to have its campaign metrics accredited by third-party sources, following a recent similar move by the industry’s other walled garden Facebook.

The move shows the increasing importance of adtech vendors having their wares accredited by The Media Ratings Council (MRC), with cross-screen video advertising specialist Innovid yesterday announcing the the trade body has rubber stamped its offering for the viewability of digital video and display ad impressions served on desktop and mobile.

“Meeting the stringent requirements necessary to earn MRC accreditation is a challenging task, and Innovid’s continued compliance for desktop digital video viewability measurement, along with its desktop and mobile video served impression measurement, speaks clearly to its position as a leader within the advertising industry,” said George W. Ivie, MRC chief executive.

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