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Online Ad Verification & What It Means For Online Publishers

Ad Verification is a relatively new area of digital marketing technology that has the potential to change how marketers buy media and how impressions are valued in the marketplace.

Most Popular Ad Verification Services

Some of the best-known companies that offer ad verification technology are DoubleVerify, AdSafe Media, and AdXPose, though there are others out there.  Wrapping the marketer’s ad with a snippet of javascript, these companies are able to read, or “scrape” the contents of the page calling the adserver and determine all kinds of information about the context and quality of the ad placement, as well as some information about the user viewing the page.  Advertisers use this information to validate the publisher has implemented their ads correctly, and help measure user engagement.

The Ad Verification Process

This image from AdXPose shows basically how the process works:How Online Ad Verification Works

For example, if a Marketer wanted their ads to only run to the New York City area, ad verification technology could give them a report on how many users saw the ad that were not in this geographic target.  Ad verification can also show on average, how many ad placements were in-view for the user, that is, on the visible area of the browser window opposed to further down on the page, but not actually on screen.  These two functions alone are often enough to convince marketers, as publishers are often reluctant or unable to provide this information, or in some cases, even distort the truth to close a sale.

But ad verification can provide additional value when used in conjunction with an ad network buy or ad exchange buy when marketers have their ads spread across hundreds or even thousands of sites.  Trying to maintain any quality standards has been difficult to impossible in these situations because Networks and Exchanges usually don’t disclose all the publishers with which they work, selling their inventory in a so-called “non-transparent” manner.  Because verification tags scrape the page content as the ad is loading however, they know exactly what domain they’re being served to and can often categorize that site as appropriate for the marketer or not, depending on how the marketer defines it.  A beer company might not mind appearing on a site dedicated to girls in bikinis, but that probably isn’t where a toy company wants to show their ads.  Verification technology can often tell marketers if this is happening to their brand, and if so, can actively prevent or block the ad from showing in that environment.

Who Is Using Ad Verification Today?

Market leaders are already flocking to the service – in early March of 2010, GroupM, the parent to agency powerhouse, WPP started using DoubleVerify tags to enforce ad specs with publishers and major networks and exchanges are also getting on board.  In late 2009, Traffic Marketplace, Collective Media, Undertone, and Tremor Networks all added verification analytics to their reporting to ease marketer concerns. Data providers are also seeing value here – AudienceScience, Rubicon Project, x+1, and other data vendors want access to verification companies site ratings.

For more about ad verification technology, see these links below:

Ad Exchanger: AdSafe Media On Transparency Into Display Ad Inventory and Frame Challenge

MediaPost: GroupM Will Be Watching Where Its Clients’ Ads Run, And Where They Should Not

IAB: IAB Hosts Interactive Advertising’s First-Ever Ad Verification Summit

MediaPost: Mpire Blocks Ads From Appearing On Sites