Based out of Sweden of all places, AdValidation is the first and the best tool I’ve seen focused on ad tag QA to date, though because of their location, not many people outside of Europe are familiar with the company. That’s a real shame, because the feature set is quite robust, and there are a number of smart, platform agnostic solutions in place to make workflow easier. As many things like this start, AdValidation was actually developed as an internal tool for a Swedish ad network to help them address the issues of working with hundreds of various publisher specs in their own business before they realized it could be a standalone product on its own. The benefit of course is that the tool has been battle tested, debugged, and enhanced by a real world customer.
The concept behind AdValidation is to enable publishers or marketers to enter in a required ad spec in advance, and then easily bounce any 3rd party tags they want against that spec with an automated system. From what I’ve seen, the tool is by far the most comprehensive and flexible in terms of feature set, allowing customers to check not only all the basic qualities of an ad like dimension and file size, but more advanced concepts like clicktag format and functionality, auto-audio detection, and so forth. Perhaps the most innovative concept AdValidation developed was around measuring CPU usage, which is all but impossible to do manually or consistently. Using a graph, the tool can show just how taxing an ad is on a computer, and measures the average usage, peak usage, and maximum sustained usage over 2 seconds or more, for the same type of machine every time. What’s more, the tool allows publisher to set a spec based on multiple metrics, to consider both average usage as well as peak usage thresholds.
AdValidation runs all these checks on robot machines that load up the ad and record performance, instead of just decompiling and inspecting the file, though the service does that as well to check other things. By using virtual machines and tracking actual performance, AdValidation can test what happens when a user clicks on an ad, if any 4th party calls are made when the ad is called, and makes it simple to push large volumes of tags through the system.
In fact, AdValidation even lets you forward an email with a bunch of tags attached, parses them, puts them into a queue for QA, and then emails you back the results, or just lets you see it in their UI. As an additional benefit, the tool makes the results page linkable, so it’s easy to provide the information back to the agency or marketers showing exactly what tags are breaking spec, and in what way.
From a usability standpoint as well as feature standpoint, AdValidation has a fairly compelling offering in my opinion, but I would encourage publishers to see a demo of the tool themselves, and weigh it against Adobe’s Adthenticate product. Adobe has arguably already surpassed AdValidation in terms of advanced criteria, though it appears for now AdValidation is still easiest to use, and fastest to implement.