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4 Good Ways to Protect Your Brand and 1 Phenomenal Way

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Click on the following SoundCloud file to listen to this blog. 

There’s no shortage of discussion about quality in digital advertising.  On the publisher side, content producers are concerned about the quality and validity of advertisements delivered on their websites.  On the advertiser side, brands are concerned about delivering advertisements on unsavory and/or fraudulent websites.  Concerns are exacerbated by the continued shift to buying and selling via programmatic buying methods, specifically real-time bidding.

I am a proponent of RTB, having served as the Director of Publisher Sales at the world’s largest independent advertising exchange, AppNexus.  I’ve seen the benefits it can provide for the advertising ecosystem – creating efficiencies in connecting buyers and sellers, allowing buyers to value impressions individually and connect with their desired audiences, introducing data for more intelligent buys, and so forth.  With the benefits come some headaches, much of which revolve around quality.  Last week, Jamie Elden, Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Entertainment at LIN Digital, wrote an article about how brands can prevent serving on “sleazy” websites.  The article has valid points and I’m adding a few concrete tips myself.

  1. When buying across an advertising exchange, determine if the provider has an audit process for vetting publisher inventory.  At AppNexus, this was referred to as “platform audited.”  Some exchanges use a human-based process, while others have automated tools.  In either circumstance, you will want to serve on inventory that has been vetted in some capacity.  If the exchange has no native tools, consider working with a data provider like Peer39, now under Sizmek, as they provide similar services.
  2. Make sure that what you’re purchasing makes sense relative to the amount you paid.  If I met you in the street and said, “I’ve got Christian Louboutin pumps for $50,” you will likely know they are not real Loubous.  The same applies when buying digitally.  If your team pulls a report indicating you paid $0.10 for New York Times home page, you likely purchased fraudulent inventory.  Tricky, bad-acting publishers inappropriately use referrer URLs to mask the real domain name with a domain they’ve manually entered.  To get a better handle on pricing, contact the publishers and networks from which you buy or want to buy, and ask about their price ranges.  They are likely setting price floors to meet these ranges so anything beneath that is not their inventory.
  3. Use a piggyback pixel for verification in your ad server.  This allows you to track delivery and reporting using your own technology.
  4. Stay in control of your ad dollars.  If you are the marketer, it can be easy to hand off budgets to your agency-of-record who then hands it off to the agency trading desk who may implement the buy or may again hand it off to a network who then implements the buy.  Regardless of what you want, when you’re dealing with a chain this long, your needs will be lost.

Those are four strong ways to protect your brand when buying digitally.  Here’s one phenomenal way:

Try digital audio.  It’s a highly-engaging, underutilized medium with a number of reasons why it will work for your brand.

  • There are no fraudulent streaming radio stations, pure-play music stations or podcasts.  You may not like the content of them all, but they are real.  And fortunately, we can serve on audio publishers with which you feel comfortable.
  • You have 10, 15 or 30 seconds to tell your brand’s story.  You have an opportunity to pitch your consumer on your products and services.
  • You can incorporate data in your targeting to deliver differentiated, one-to-one messaging at scale.
  • Digital audio ads are measurable and reportable.
  • Did I mention it’s highly-engaging?

The benefits go on longer than your patience for this blog.  Get in touch with us and we can talk about it.

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