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Fraud-day With RTB Asia: The China Perspective

fraudThis is the tenth in a series of interviews with vendors combating the problem of ad fraud. Other companies participating in this series include Moat and Sizmek. Read previous interviews with comScore, DoubleVerify, Dstillery, Forensiq, Integral Ad Science, PubChecker, Telemetry, Videology and White Ops.

When Andy Fan founded Shanghai-based RTB Asia a couple of years ago, fraud detection wasn’t really on his mind. Today, RTB Asia provides the country’s only anti-fraud pre-bid solution.

“At the beginning, we were focused on audience segmentation, but we quickly realized the challenge – and opportunity – of programmatic in China,” Fan said.

The opportunity is this: In China, all ad exchanges, supply-side partners and private marketplaces furnish the full IP address along with each bid request. (This isn’t the case with  other global exchanges, like Google, which hashes part of the IP address.)

With full IP addresses at their disposal, Fan and his team of 12 can categorize each unique number stream based on behavioral patterns. From there, they assign the address with a “humanness” score from 0 to 99. When an IP falls in the 0 to 49 range, the behavior associated with it is characterized as different from human behavior, and RTB Asia’s algorithm might suggest adjusting the price of the bid or scrapping it altogether. If the range is from 50 to 99, the traffic is considered to be normal and human.

As of now, RTB Asia has impressive coverage, with continually updating information about 99.98% of IP addresses in China. Current clients include SSP and DSP player AdChina and online marketing firm iClick, which is in the process of integrating with RTB Asia. China-based DSP Yoyi Media and Kuzai Technology, a company similar to Sizmek, which uses data to fuel dynamic creative, are both in the process of evaluating RTB Asia’s fraud solution.

“The entire fraud industry in China is emerging,” Fan said. “It’s our job to educate advertisers and DSPs that they don’t just have to read reports after the fact – they can detect and reject fake impressions.”

AdExchanger caught up with Fan.


Fraud-day With Telemetry: “Automating Ad Fraud Detection Is Dangerous”

fraudAd-serving and verification company Telemetry isn’t in favor of automating the ad fraud detection process.

The problem, said Geo Carncross, the company’s global VP of engineering, is that detection sensors can be fooled into thinking fraudulent impressions are real and, consequently, advertisers will start optimizing for fraud instead of for real ad performance.

Telemetry’s fraud solution is part of its overall managed service.

“We don’t expressly detect ad fraud,” Carncross said. “We identify fraudulent vehicles. The distinction is important because it’s a labor-driven thing. We build tools and technology to make the analyst more able to interact with the vehicle in real time. Once we’ve identified the vehicle, we can do things similar to what other vendors are doing by isolating and separating.”

Carncross and his colleague, Telemetry head of infrastructure Alex Clouter, spoke with AdExchanger.

IPONWEB CEO Talks Adternity, RTB Fraud And Why He Wouldn’t Be In Business Without Google

BorisRussian real-time bidding (RTB) engineering firm IPONWEB has largely operated behind the scenes as the backbone of many media-trading platforms. Notably, IPONWEB helped RightMedia build out its ad exchange preceding its 2007 acquisition by Yahoo, and has since constructed 40 more trading systems at a similar or smaller scale.

In late August, IPONWEB moved in on Adternity, a workflow and systems integration firm that builds dashboards and ad-serving tools. IPONWEB claimed the acquisition was part of an attempt to expand on an end-to-end offering that already includes u-Platform and BidSwitch technology (trading platform customization and a supply/demand “switch” connecting trading partners).

Boris Mouzykantskii, founder, CEO and chief scientist at IPONWEB, caught up with AdExchanger at DMEXCO last week to discuss the other reasons why it acquired Adternity and how the German company factors into IPONWEB’s evolution.

AdExchanger: Why did IPONWEB buy Adternity?

BORIS MOUZYKANTSKII: Germany is an extremely important market for us. At least from my limited interaction here, you tend to get into technical discussions very quickly and having some German engineers on our team will help us to serve this market better. Historically, as a company, we worked closely with Adternity for many years. They were focusing on their UI solutions and we were building the back end and we still have many clients whom we serve directly so there was a lot of overlap this way.


Programmatic I/O: The Buy And Sell Sides Share Responsibility In Fraud Fight

fraud fightHow bad a problem is online ad fraud, and how should the buy and sell sides divvy the responsibility to combat it?

This question formed the crux of the panel “New Methods For Defeating Fraud In The Programmatic Era,” moderated by WPP's Team Detroit chief digital officer, Kurt Unkel, at Wednesday’s Programmatic I/O conference in New York City.

So are 30% of online ad impressions truly fraudulent, as some industry studies suggest?

Andrew Casale, VP of strategy at sell-side ad tech company Casale Media, thinks that’s about right. “It could be bigger,” he said during the panel.

However Neal Richter, chief scientist at Rubicon Project (which began on the sell side, but has branched out to work with the buy side), differs.

“When someone gives you a number like that, the scientist in me asks, 'Where’d you get the numerator and where’d you get the denominator?'” he said. “There could be a great deal of selection bias in this particular exercise.” Some exchanges might be overwhelmed with fraudulent activity. Others might run a much tighter ship. He added an exchange with good policies should not suffer 30% fraud rates.

Still, the exact percentage is irrelevant, said Michael Tiffany, CEO of White Ops, which specializes in online ad security. Within the mature credit card industry, he said, losses average 7 cents per $100 spent. “If fraud was just 7% of advertising, it would be 100 times worse than the credit card fraud that makes the news everybody hears about,” he said.

Deep Eddy Vodka Takes A Shot At Digital

Deep EddyOne of the best things about Deep Eddy Vodka is the taste. At least that’s what Brandon Cason, VP of marketing, has to say about the 4-year-old spirits brand that’s based in Austin, Texas.

But prospects aren't going to seek out a product they've never heard of. That’s one reason the brand, whose efforts are focused on “awareness and trial,” added digital to its marketing plan, Cason said.

Deep Eddy Vodka is in a competitive market and aims to extract as much as it can from every marketing dollar. “With any new CPG, you don’t have a lot of money on the front end,” said Cason.

Initially, the spirits manufacturer’s marketing strategy focused on out-of-home advertising, including billboards and sponsoring music festivals, but Cason wanted to branch into digital. “Any smart marketer is aware of the need to have a digital presence," he said. "It’s more important than ever.”

With The Daily Dot, Cason created a native advertising campaign  with stories built around Deep Eddy’s Ruby Red Vodka, which was available in 22 states at the time.

“They were instrumental in helping us understand it’s not just about digital display ads," he said, "but content is king, and serving up fun content that’s interesting, relevant and shareable.” The two companies used to share a working space and already had a rapport and a degree of trust.

The Deep Eddy brand is “nostalgic and throwback-based,” so the teams collaborated on native content that would expand on that theme, a “longing for the nostalgic life, and looking back at the way things were,” Cason said. (more…)

Accordant Media Tries To Simplify Programmatic With Consolidated Offering

accordant mediaIndependent trading desk Accordant Media uncorked on Friday a consolidated offering called Audience Targeting System (ATS) designed to make programmatic trading more accessible to direct market clients and prospects.

The goal, according to company CEO and co-founder Art Muldoon, is to demystify the world of programmatic trading. To do this, Accordant consolidated four components it had developed since the company’s inception in 2010: a data-management platform (DMP) called Audience Optics, a buying platform, an analytics suite and a reporting portal.

“Over the last 12 months, we scaled up our engineering team considerably and made a concerted effort to unify the different components of our technology,” said company COO and co-founder Matt Greitzer. “We’ve augmented it with other components to make the complete package of ATS.”

One point of augmentation: the Accordant buying platform. Over the past nine months, the company’s data science team has refined the algorithms that powered the platform, making it more robust.

Accordant, which has about 60 employees, positions itself as a services company as much as it is a tech vendor. It essentially offers the white-glove service, helping clients (around 60 of them – 80% marketers and 20% media agencies, whose abilities Accordant magnifies) navigate the choppy programmatic waters with its technology.

“Our ATS system represents an integration of probably 75 different types of vendor relationships in addition to the proprietary technology we’ve built,” Muldoon said.

AdExchanger spoke with Muldoon and Greitzer.

MAGNA Global: Digital Ad Sales Could Outpace TV By 2017

USspendDigital media could be the No. 1 ad category in the US by 2017 with $72 billion in spend, outpacing TV by about $1.5 billion, according to a MAGNA Global quarterly Advertising Forecast released Tuesday.

The report attributed the shift partly to “the advent of programmatic buying in digital media and the stabilization of cost for premium video inventory,” converting categories of traditional TV spenders (namely consumer packaged goods companies) to digital channels. Marketers are exploring integrations of consumer and sales data to enhance digital media targeting.

Although television revenue was up 4% in the first half of the year, MAGNA lowered its full-year forecast from 8.3% to 6.1% in total growth for that category. Other traditional media categories fared worse in terms of revenue growth: print was down 9.5% year over year in the second quarter, radio was down 4.7% while out of home revenues slowed from a 4.3% growth rate to .9%.

Overall, US advertising revenue is expected to grow by 5.1% to $167 billion this year, a slight decrease from MAGNA’s previous growth estimate of 6%. This was attributed to non-recurrent ad spend generated from Political and Olympic (P&O) campaigns and “softer-than-expected” market conditions related to the economy in Q2.


Inc. Revenue Survey: MediaMath Topped $310M In 2013, DataXu $118M

inc5000-2014Startups built on programmatic technologies are among  the fastest-growing companies in the United States, as reported Monday in Inc. Magazine's annual 500/5000 revenue survey.

Among the notable entries in this year's list: Demand-side platform MediaMath's revenue in 2013 reached $310.8 million, representing 490% growth over three years. Its competitor DataXu also made significant revenue strides for the second year running, growing from $87 million in 2012 to $118.4 million in 2013. (However DataXu's three-year growth rate has slowed considerably from an almost absurd 21,337% last year to 823% in the current report.)

A few other entries jumped out: Independent trading desk Accordant Media raked in $27.1 million (a 1,663% growth rate), and Integral Ad Science, despite having been around for a while, achieved noteworthy growth of 3,232% to $23.4 million.

Below we've compiled a list of ad tech companies that made the Inc. 500/5000 list, showing 2012 revenues and presented in descending order from highest growth rate to lowest.


Demand Media Names Ex-Ticketmaster Chief CEO Amid Q2 Loss

DemandDemand Media has named a former Ticketmaster chief Sean Moriarty as its new CEO. The move follows a rough second quarter, when it revealed last Thursday that its revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs (ex-TAC) declined 10% year-over-year to $87.1 million.

The company on Monday also acquired online art community Saatchi Online in a $17 million cash-and-stock deal. Moriarty served most recently as CEO of Saatchi Art. Demand Media Cofounder Shawn Colo took the reigns as interim CEO in October, when then chairman and CEO Richard Rosenblatt announced his departure. Colo is to serve as Demand's president upon the latest transition.

Demand Media, the owner of myriad media properties ranging from eHow to humor site, has experienced some pain points, as have other publishers, in their shift to programmatic pricing models. Ad revenue in the second quarter was $31 million, a 33% YoY drop, which Colo credited to "lower desktop traffic to our owned-and-operated properties and our strategic shift to programmatic ad solutions, which currently have a lower CPM than higher-touch direct ad sales."


ComScore Strengthens Demographics With Yahoo, Google Integrations, As Q2 Revenues Pop

SergeMattaMedia and audience measurement company comScore reported on Tuesday a 14.5% YoY revenue increase for Q2 2014 to $80 million, up from $69.9 million last year.

Although comScore renewed its preferred strategic partner deals with agency GroupM and consumer packaged goods company P&G for audience delivery measurement, the company recognizes there is room for improvement in brand marketer adoption.

“Today, we feel like we’ve penetrated less than 20% of advertisers [with vCE] so there is a lot more to do,” said Serge Matta, president and CEO of comScore, during the earnings call. He anticipates the company’s recent integrations of audience delivery validation tool Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) with Yahoo’s and Google’s respective ad buying and reporting platforms will help in this regard.

“With Google and Yahoo coming onboard, that will increase significantly,” Matta said, adding that mobile is also an area of concentration, though comScore is still zeroing in on display and video measurements. “Our focus 100% is display and video, video being equally important to display. Since we just released mobile vCE, it’s a key priority for us but mobile is still way behind in penetration compared to display and video.”