Commentary

A Look at How Some Publishers Can Over-stuff a Website Full of Ads

Do you ever wonder how much advertisers know about where their ads are being seen? Of course. It’s a big issue in the vast Internet universe. It seems where ever I go online, advertising is there to greet me, or catch up with me, even when I’m at some pretty lonely online outposts.   

Digiday looked up a site called CrazyDaysandNights.net, a really smelly Website that dishes dirt—big, steaming mounds of it—on celebs and media personalities, mostly reported as “blind items.” A lot in here is about actresses who have met a casting couch or two or three, and actors and TV newsmen who are sleeping around. Those dispatches are followed by posters who guess who the stars, the shows and the producers are. It’s all pretty depressing, with only a passing nod to whether the scandalous stories are true. Much of it is presumably reported by an anonymous entertainment lawyer.

The lawyer part, I guess, I don’t doubt. Here’s the disclaimer on the site, printed in hard to read type: “Crazy Days and Nights is a gossip site. The site publishes rumors, conjecture, and fiction. In addition to accurately reported information, certain situations, characters and events portrayed in the Blog are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Information on this site may contain errors or inaccuracies; the Blog’s proprietor does not make warranty as to the correctness or reliability of the site's content. Links to content on and quotation of material from other sites are not the responsibility of Crazy Days and Nights.”

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You could drive a fleet of Mack Trucks through that.

Digiday went hunting for sites in which publishers are cramming ads, seen and unseeable, all over the place. CDAN, not surprisingly, is an example. In a story it published, Digiday noted,  “The site serves no fewer than 21 individual IAB ad impressions on any given page, with the help of major online ad companies such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, AppNexus, OpenX, the Rubicon Project and many, many more. That’s in addition to contextual text ads and autoplay video ads.”

Sites like Crazy Days and Nights don’t make selling any online advertising any easier. Advertisers hear about millions of impressions, which might be millions of insinuations of impressions, on sites an advertiser would probably flee to avoid if they only knew. For example Digiday says Crazy Days and Nights may have served around 80 million display ads in the month of June alone.   

“Ultimately, Crazy Days and Nights is the type of long-tail publisher site on which exchanges and data-targeted ad companies thrive,” Digiday writes, concluding later, “Serving up 21 impressions per page creates the perfect environment for publishers and middlemen to game the system and to squeeze extra ad money from advertisers. If they’re charging on a cost-per-impression basis, it’s more impressions to charge for. If they’re charging on a performance basis, it’s the perfect opportunity to ‘cookie bomb’ users, a tactic that involves bombarding users with cheap ads that drop cookies in an attempt to claim attribution before a purchase is made.”

Sorry to depress you.

pj@mediapost.com

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