Digital advertising used to be simple. Back in the days when websites were cleaner, with a very limited number of ad formats running on desktop computers, as an industry, we felt reasonably comfortable that an ad served equated to an ad viewed. Operating within the most measurable advertising medium, digital analytics professionals led the way in establishing standards and methodologies by which digital campaign success was evaluated. Consumers who were served an ad had an “opportunity to see” the ad.
What is ad verification and what caused the need for verification?
“Verification technology enables advertisements to be seen by real people, in the right geo and safe and suitable environments” and at Integral Ad Science we call this impression a “Quality Impression”.
As any given new medium is adopted by people, advertising budgets quickly follow; ad spend follows eyeballs, and as you see the digital market has grown rapidly, thus bringing about a need for transparency and verification. We saw this with the original desktop internet, we’ve seen it with mobile and we are starting to see it in new environments like connected television (CTV).
With digital ad spend continues to boom and gain even more scale globally, the industry is becoming laser-focused on being accountable and transparent. P&G’s Marc Pritchard (who also happens to be a steward of the world’s largest advertising budget) has said that the digital media supply chain can be “murky at best and fraudulent at worst.” As the complex story of digital advertising continues to unfold, many companies are still struggling to respond effectively. Amidst all the turmoil, industry players have been taking a stand to impose media quality standards and re-build confidence in the ‘Wild West’ digital ecosystem.
Role of verification companies in cleaning up the digital ecosystem
As advertisers expanded their reach into the unknown digital territory, marketers found that their brand was unintentionally and unknowingly being exposed to risky placements. Marketers, publishers, and platforms have turned to ad verification technology to help mitigate the risk associated with digital advertising. Marketers can now verify if they were reaching real people with viewable ads in suitable environments.
So now that we’ve covered the What and the Why, let’s dive into actionable steps of how to set up your ‘verification’ campaign for success
Setting up verification for the overall success
Establish and agree on a benchmark for success for yourself as an advertiser working in partnership with your agency. Be sure to also share this with your media partners, ideally campaign by campaign to make sure you buy quality inventory through quality impressions.
Here are the 6 steps you need to take care of:
- Set a Viewability standard according to the company guidelines, if you are unsure where to start a good place is using the IAB industry-standard, secondly, you can look to move to lift viewability in line with the country performance or similar to how others are performing in your vertical. It is also worth noting that your agency might have a standard in place as well.
- Establish what is your brand safety threshold, what categories or keyword terms are acceptable or unacceptable to you as a brand. With cookies deprecating, the industry is fast moving towards brand suitability, so it’s also important to start building a strategy around finding the right context for your brand to appear alongside and contextual targeting will be the way forward.
- Brand safety is not something you can set and forget, be sure to revisit this on a campaign by campaign basis.
- Much like Brand Risk, Fraud is also unacceptable and you should be blocking sophisticated fraud at all times, so have an active discussion with your agency partners on the acceptable levels of fraud
- A key point to keep in mind verification should be applied across all buys whether it be programmatic, socials, or direct; regardless of channels.
- And last but not least use the reporting provided by your verification partners to keep optimizing, and using the insights to inform your future campaigns.
If you take all these steps, you plan, you implement, you optimize, report, and redirect you will get ROI by making sure you’re buying the highest quality inventory.
Verification is built to make sure digital remains safe to advertise and ensure you can get real-world outcomes that make an impact across buy types and channels. Verification will continue to be the quintessential foundational step, but the process does not end there.