I have been in multiple conversations recently with clients about video fraud, safety and content verification and how those impact video advertising today. I was asked questions such as “How concerned should I be? What’s the best way to prevent issues? What are my options? It became clear to me that while there’s overall concern about the topic of video verification, there’s also a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed.
So here is a cheat sheet of the things you may want to consider in your solution. All the items below are critical to ensuring maximum protection for your brand.
1) Media Neutrality
The single most important thing is to ensure that you are not using a solution that is provided by a company that also sells you the media. There are several verification solutions on the market, but many of them are homegrown solutions offered by media sellers that aim to offer insight into the quality, or lack thereof, of their competitors’ inventory. In other words, if Company A sells you media and also tells you, here’s a solution that will verify our media - can you believe that this is a viable solution? To avoid this conflict of interest and ensure that you’re getting accurate information, you should prioritize solutions that are media neutral.
2) Methodology and Technology
It is also crucial that you are confident in and comfortable with the technologies and the methodologies used by your solution of choice. Here are 3 questions you want to ask:
- What’s your measurable Rate? - This KPI measures the percent of impressions verified out of the total impressions delivered in the campaign. Your goal should be to get as close as possible to a measurable rate of 100%.
- Are you MRC accredited? - A solution that carries the MRC seal means it is a trusted solution that has gone through a rigorous set of tests and has been validated to meet a certain set of guidelines and industry standards.
- What’s your level of publisher transparency and cooperation? - Keeping your media partners in the dark is counterproductive and ensures the negative outcomes you are trying to avoid. Make sure the relevant data is available to your media partners in real time and that you frequently communicate with them to address any issues that may come up.
3) Fraud Detection and Brand Safety
No verification solution can be considered viable without addressing these two topics.
Fraud detection identifies whether an impression was generated by a human (i.e. real or not). Fraud has been an ongoing issue since the early days of online advertising with click fraud in search marketing and other CPC driven marketing. Since then, the problem evolved and started affecting CPM based advertising such as display and video. There is already a great deal of industry buzz, so let it suffice to say that there are many forms and tactics of impression fraud as the fraud committers become increasingly sophisticated. That said, there are several companies dedicated to solving the problem with robust solutions to address different methods of fraud.
Brand safety focuses on identifying areas which are not suitable for brand advertising. An impression may be real and viewable but if the ad ends up appearing next to inappropriate content such as adult material, hate speech, violence, etc. - it can lead to a disaster for a brand which invested years in building its public image.
4) Full Campaign Visibility
You should make sure that you get granular data and reporting that gives you full visibility into what affected the performance of your campaign: How many issues were detected? How were they distributed across your media partners? How many impressions were affected? How did it affect your overall campaign performance? Etc.
It is also important to combine your display verification and video verification reporting. There are solutions on the market that offer one or the other, and solutions that do both. The advantage in combining both is streamlined operations and the benefit of utilizing display verification data in video verification and vice versa. The more historical data you use, the more accurate your detectionand thus protection, will be.
That said, reporting is only good at detecting the issues and giving you a backward look at things. This is good for understanding what happened and suggesting measures for future campaigns.
5) Impression Blocking
The best measure to ensure that issues will actually be prevented is to deny the delivery of the impression. Several techniques exist to do this:
- Blacklists - A list of domains is created where your ads must not run. Ads can run on any site that isn’t on the blacklist.
- Whitelists - A list of domains is created where your ads may run. Ads must not run on any site that isn’t on the whitelist.
- Impression-level analysis - Inspecting each impression and determining whether it meets the advertiser’s specific criteria, including brand or message conflict, along with fraud, brand safety, and other requirements, and denying ad delivery when these criteria aren’t met for the specific impression.
Many advertisers today use black and white lists. However, this is like throwing out an entire container of eggs because one is broken. Making a decision per impression is preferred to making a collective assumption that a domain is always safe or never safe as it ensures fewer bad ad impressions where something went wrong on a trusted site, and more good ad impressions on sites that otherwise might have been totally excluded with a less granular solution.
6) Page Verification & Video Player Content Verification
It’s important to understand that online video appears on pages composed of two separate pieces - one being the video player where the video content and your video ad appear, and the second being the actual page that hosts the video player. Verification issues can happen both on the page and inside the video player, but most solutions on the market focus on detecting issues within the page only. Often times, the page content may be safe while the video content inside the video player is inappropriate for your brand. You must be able to detect BOTH issues related to the page and issues related to the video content itself.
6 Steps to Video Campaign Recovery
Once you are over the hump of admitting that fraud and a general lack of visibility represent a threat to your digital campaigns, use this list of six key considerations as your guide to recovery. When the curtain is pulled aside to reveal an industry problem, many technology providers will race to offer proprietary solutions. Not all solutions are created equal, so find a solution that deals with each of these verification considerations for you so that you have the most complete capabilities possible.
About the Author
Ronnie Lavi is vice president, product, at Innovid, a technology platform for delivering immersive video advertising anywhere. Ronnie is a digital advertising technology veteran with nearly a decade of product development and product marketing experience.