In the world of programmatic advertising, verification has become table stakes. Without some kind of guarantee of brand safety or viewability, many advertisers would be reticent to invest in digital at all.
Most of this verification is pre-bid verification. To explain it simply, as an advertiser enters a bid for a placement, a third party scans the page against a pre-determined set of rules to ensure the page on which the ad will appear is appropriate. For example, if you’re advertising Kool-Aid, you may have rules against appearing on pages that contain profane language. You may also, for obviously reasons, want to avoid appearing adjacent to content about childhood obesity or tooth decay. Your verification partner would be tasked with ensuring that your display ads appear in environments that are free of any of that content. However, you probably don’t want to block entire publications or networks, so verification has to be performed on a case-by-case, impression-by-impression basis.
The challenge with pre-bid verification is that every decision made about a programmatic placement occurs in less than 200 milliseconds. A company like Blis sees 200 thousand bid requests every second, and critical decisions need to be made against literally all of them. Those decisions need to be made quickly enough to avoid missing opportunities to reach audiences at key moments in their customer journeys.
Post-bid verification occurs after the ad has run. Rather than proactively preventing your ad from running in unsafe environments, it reports on where ads ran the day prior and allows advertisers to determine that all placements were appropriate, and whether they want to make any changes to rules for subsequent runs.
While post-bid provides a great opportunity for advertisers and their partners to ensure that every placement has been viewable and brand-safe. However, it can put advertisers with viewability targets in somewhat awkward positions if those targets are unmet on any given day.
In location-based advertising, verification is a new field that we’re only beginning to explore – and it represents a huge opportunity. However, it also introduces some controversy, as there are few third parties capable of accurately verifying location. While there are many verification companies in the market today, and some, like Nielsen, offer audience verification, they focus more on age and gender than location – and none are capable of accurately verifying location at all just yet.
At Blis, we can proudly offer pre-bid verification to our clients. We review all the data we receive from our publishing partners in two-week chunks, and we create visualizations of that data so we can carefully look for patterns that seem suspicious or otherwise non-human. Our location data is scored based on those reviews as either a pass or a fail. Any publisher with data that has received a “fail” is blocked from providing data for the next day. Through this rigorous, ongoing process, we can ensure that our data is trustworthy every single day, and that our clients’ budgets are never wasted on inaccurate lat/long data.
While we don’t offer post-bid verification just yet, we may in the future. We recognize that fraud is a concern in all areas of digital advertising, location included, and want our clients to feel confident that the data and services we provide are both reliable and trustworthy. And, as with the data powering all programmatic advertising, we don’t believe anyone should be allowed to grade their own homework. In the interest of moving the industry forward, we firmly believe that all data, including location data, should be verified by an anonymous third party to ensure both transparency and accuracy.
Click here to view Blis’ Brand Safety Policy.
In our next post, you’ll learn more about the sources of location data, and the questions you should ask to ensure you’re getting the best quality data.