Click Forensics will open a program Friday to audit impressions in display ads. The program tests the ability to filter ads and identify invalid traffic in real-time.
Taking a cue from its existing platform to monitor and score billions of clicks, now the company will use the technology to score impressions, as well as determine fraud and validity. The effort to ease the ad industry's growing pains and increase transparency into ad-buying and conversions could prevent marketers from wasting ad dollars and gain better return on investments.
"We're looking at all the data being purchased through media sold or purchased," says Paul Pellman, chief executive officer, Click Forensics, Austin, Texas. "We do machine learning and predictive modeling against that data to identify anomalous patterns and traffic sources that we have proven invalid in the past."
Pellman points to more companies being added to the media-buying process as creating complexity. He says adding companies, such as ad exchanges, demand-side platforms (DSPs) and blind ad networks, muddies the view to return on investment by creating less clarity in the advertising buying supply chain.
Ad quality and how to determine it: it's a problem that doesn't keep marketers up at night, but does prompt some to search for a solution. "They become almost another data provider to help us determine the impressions we want to buy and how much to pay for it," says Matt Greitzer, vice president of search marketing and head of ATOM Systems at Razorfish.
Greitzer says Razorfish relies on Click Forensics for search marketing campaigns, but not digital display campaigns. He says the service will add value that others don't offer.
Click Forensic's technology will need a few tweaks. Pellman says there are aspects of fraud and invalid traffic in the impressions space that are somewhat different in the click space. Below-the-fold impressions, where the ads are never viewed by someone, or the concept of URL padding -- where advertisers buy inventory across a range of URLs, thinking they will get good coverage but don't -- are a couple.
Ad stuffing -- where ads are shown in a rapid pace through iframe tags only viewable for a short period of time or invisible pages -- remain two more unique problems to display advertising that Click Forensic customers want solved.
The advertising industry grew up with an efficient way to syndicated ads. Ad networks helped to push the content out. The use of an iframe tag isn't a problem, Pellman says, but the unanticipated outcome remains a lack of transparency. Fraudsters and scammers look for any loophole in the infrastructure that enables them to make fraudulent traffic look like valid traffic.
The Click Forensics display ad verification platform also aims to help marketers verify the delivery of purchased impressions, such as how many impressions they received, to whom they were delivered, and whether they were viewed by a human for an appreciable time period. By using the platform, advertisers and agencies will be able to pre-filter individual unwanted impressions in real-time and verify that campaign objectives are met by delivering better targeted impressions.