5 Questions for Reggie Davis, VP of Marketplace Quality, Yahoo

Reggie Davis

Vice President of Marketplace Quality,  “Click Fraud Czar,” Yahoo

A round the Yahoo cubicle farm, Reggie Davis is known as a gentle giant — he’s over six feet tall and 200-plus pounds — because when he’s not battling bad actors on the Yahoo networks, he’s known to be a pretty nice guy. Davis leads the charge in helping rid Yahoo’s network of unwanted clicks. In the little more than six months he’s been on the job, he’s launched Yahoo’s Traffic Quality Center, and generally made it known that there is a new sheriff in town, cleaning the click fraud scum from the digital streets. With seven years’ experience on the Yahoo legal team handling the industry’s first wave of click fraud litigation, Davis knows the territory well. Hitting the ground running, he moved quickly to launch a host of initiatives around click protection, monitoring traffic generated by Yahoo partners and ensuring that quality considerations were built in to Yahoo’s new search marketing platform, codename: Panama (for the canal, not the Van Halen song).

What is the biggest fallacy regarding PPC?

>> That advertisers have nothing to lose because they only pay when a user clicks. While it’s true that advertisers only pay when users click, the value of those users is variable. It’s in our interest to do everything we can to ensure that the users who see the ad are the most likely users to click. PPC and ROI/CPA are inextricably tied and if advertisers aren’t seeing returns, they won’t spend as much next time, and we lose.

Who should be afraid of you?

>> Publishers and distribution sources intending to defraud advertisers and Yahoo with fraudulent or invalid clicks.

We’ve removed many traffic sources and publishers from our distribution network and will continue to do so. If a publisher slips below our Publisher Quality Assessment threshold, we work with the publisher to improve their overall quality score. In fact, we’ve started delivering traffic quality reports to certain publishers in order to empower them to monitor and manage the quality of their traffic. This has been well received and has led to quality improvements.

Is relying on forensic analysis of server logs an effective enough safeguard against click fraud?

>> Analyzing server logs can be effective in identifying a specific problem for a specific advertiser, but we have a number of additional protections in place that go far beyond this analysis. Some fraudulent patterns are not apparent at an individual advertiser level, so our automated Click Protection System works at a network level to identify and filter clicks accordingly. We also have a team of analysts in place that are dedicated to improving our automated system and addressing individual advertiser concerns. 

Why isn’t it a conflict for a network like Yahoo to have in-house policing?

>> First, it’s our duty and responsibility to protect our advertisers. Second, it is in Yahoo’s best financial interest to monitor and drive quality traffic to advertisers. In an auction model, the more relevant and good quality ads we can provide to users, the more they will click, the more our advertisers will bid and the more money Yahoo and our partners will make. We do extensive work internally to monitor the network. We also rely on information our advertisers provide to improve the quality of traffic. And we encourage advertisers to use our analytics tools and offerings to help partner with us to provide overall better traffic quality.

If you didn’t work in the online industry or law, what would you do?

>> I would like to coach football. I played in high school and college and just love the game. Also, in football, the goal of the coach is to make sure that every player knows what they are required to do to succeed; and to do everything in your power to help them succeed. In football there is pretty much a winner and a loser on every play. The game is really simple that way and is very appealing to me for that reason. In my current job, I feel like it is my goal to make sure that each and every one of the talented brothers and sisters that I have the pleasure to work with at Yahoo understands what a good day looks like; what it means to succeed.

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