Having established a strong foothold with advertisers and agencies buying programmatic media, ad-fraud detector White Ops is ramping up its exposure on the supply side of the marketplace. White Ops, which has emerged as an ad-tech leader with its sophisticated bot fraud detection software, this morning announced a new round of funding -- a $20 million round led by its original investors -- and plans to use the capital to expand its presence globally and especially with the publishing community.
What makes the development so interesting is that it is evolving contrary to the way most proof-of-performance services have established themselves in Madison Avenue’s history. With the exception of copy testing and so-called “brand safety” services that screen content for their sensitivity to a brand’s message, most of the ad industry’s proof-of-performance and verification services have historically been funded primarily by suppliers.
In the case of bot fraud detection services like White Ops, it was the ad community that underwrote it first, White Ops CEO and Co-Founder Michael Tiffany explains.
“When we started we knew that we had a product that was valuable to advertisers, but we had the theory that it would be valuable to the sell side as well, but our theory was based on economic reasoning that if we armed buyers with the ability to distinguish real from fake human traffic, then there would be competition from publishers to use it to differentiate themselves.”
While White Ops already has big customers on the supply side -- Yahoo, AOL, Videology and TubeMogul, the last of which actually offers a money-back guarantee based on White Ops’ measurement of human user traffic -- Tiffany feels like the company has just scratched the surface and the new funds will be used primarily to develop its marketplace with suppliers that want to demonstrate the integrity of the audiences they are guaranteeing to advertisers.
Tiffany noted that White Ops continues to invest in improving its service to stay on top of fraudulent innovation. It’s method is based on a “white hat” approach of tracking, detecting and alerting when it comes across “black hat,” or fraudulent software showing up on the browsers of users publishers are selling to advertisers as human traffic.
Tiffany said White Ops continues to scour and detect desktop fraud, but that the primary area of focus has become mobile, because that’s where fraudsters are focusing much of their current energy.“We’re seeing the most original mobile ad-fraud models because that’s where the black hats are focusing their innovation. It’s a dark world,” he said, adding: “There are some masterful bot nets out there, and most of the experimentation right now is in mobile.”