RSS FeedArchive for the ‘Platforms’ Category


Fraud-day With DoubleVerify: Bad Actors Are Getting More Sophisticated

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

DoubleVerify is not new to the ad fraud game.

When the company first opened its doors in 2009, it was, as its name denotes, primarily focused on the verification process that ensures ads appear where they’re intended to appear in compliance with regulations. DoubleVerify collaborated with the IAB back in 2012 to develop the “Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification,” now considered the industry standard.

Today, DoubleVerify aims to be a full-service solution, said Chief Operating Officer Matt McLaughlin.

“We’re not just attacking one element of the fraud problem,” McLaughlin said. “There are a number of different types of online ad fraud that crop up wherever bad actors can make money in new and creative ways by generating impressions.”

Hidden ad fraud (impressions concealed behind other content or ads displayed in a tiny 1x1 pixel iFrame), laundering fraud (discussed below) and nonhuman bot traffic are par for the course.

Bots in particular are becoming more clever, and therefore insidious, making it harder to tell the humans from the robots.

“We apply hundreds of data points against billions of impressions and combine that with unique external information to identify an individual nonhuman browser,” McLaughlin said. “We take a deterministic approach to bot identification where we look at hundreds of data points per user/browser in a variety of environments so that we’re absolutely certain that the activity that we’re flagging is nonhuman and that we’re catching as many as possible.”

McLaughlin went into more detail with AdExchanger.

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Orchard Platform Applying Programmatic To Loan Market

matt burton orchardAs the ad tech industry consolidates, some veterans of the space are looking to apply their skills to new fields.

One result is Orchard Platform, founded in November and led by CEO Matt Burton, formerly sales engineer for AdMeld. The platform facilitates direct lending, bringing together institutional investors, loan originators and consumers.

Most of Orchard’s 17 employees have an ad tech background, including eight who worked at AdMeld before it was acquired by Google in 2011.

Orchard closed a $2.7 million seed round in December, and Burton said the company plans to double head count in the next six months while opening an office in Europe. The company boasts more than 100 million assets under management.

Burton spoke with AdExchanger about his move into financial technology (fin tech) and how his ad tech background is helping Orchard approach the lending market.
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PubChecker’s Certification-Centric Ad Fraud Solution

fraudThis is the fourth in a series of interviews with vendors combating the problem of ad fraud. Other companies participating in this series include White Ops, DoubleVerify, Moat,Telemetry, Asia RTB and Integral Ad Science. Read previous interviews with ForensiqIntegral Ad Science and Videology.

 To combat ad fraud, many in the industry have been looking to technology that detects bots and other types of fraudulent traffic. But PubChecker founder Chris Mejia sees a better way: “Preventing ad fraud is not a technology problem. It’s a business rules problem.”

Code that identifies and shuts down fraudulent traffic creates “a game of whack-a-mole,” Mejia described. “It’s so easy to come back as another entity. Until you raise the gates on getting access, that’s going to continue to be a problem.”

His solution is PubChecker. Publishers that want to be verified through PubChecker pass a set of hurdles that are easy for legitimate publishers to jump over but very hard for bad actors to fake. The end goal is to enable programmatic buyers to transact on these verified impressions programmatically.

As founder, he is now in the early stages of signing up publishers and creating relationships with agencies, exchanges, and ad networks.

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Automated Insights Wants To Personalize Native Advertising

automated-insightsEver since his company, Automated Insights, announced a partnership with the Associated Press (AP), CEO and founder Robbie Allen says it's been a bit of a whirlwind.

The idea that his Durham, N.C., firm’s technology could automate what reporters do with the appropriate data inputs clearly has larger implications. As The Washington Post and Poynter, among others, have previously reported, Automated Insights technology can produce a 150- to 350-word article without any human involvement.

For AP, this means the data deluge from public company earnings reports, for example, could be harnessed into a quick readable format.

Not only is the AP a client, but it’s also an investor and participated in Automated Insights' (AI) latest $6.5 million round of financing, along with Osage Capital, AOL founder Steve Case and Samsung Ventures. Not bad for a company with just 35 employees.

With both a computer science and writing background informed by his days at Cisco Systems and a degree from MIT, Allen looked to marry the two disciplines based on the notion that certain types of quantitative analysis could be automated and ascribe what's interesting about data sets.

Initially it was finance, real estate and sports data – even today, Automated Insights plays a role in delivering fantasy sports news through Yahoo. The latest data sets have to do with business such as the application with AP’s business reporting.

How about marketing and advertising? AdExchanger spoke to Allen.

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Yieldbot Hands Publishers A New Way to Leverage Their First-Party Data

Scott Portugal Yieldbot

Yieldbot, whose technology looks at a user’s clickstream and search data in order to determine likeliness to buy, is extending its business to give publishers a new way to monetize their first-party data.

To help with this push, it hired Scott Portugal as GM of publisher platforms to assist publishers as they add Yieldbot to their direct sales offerings.

“We are seeing strong interest from top-tier publishers that want to use it themselves,” instead of having Yieldbot bring in brands for them. “Advertisers should be able to buy performance elements of the campaign to complement their first-party sales,” Portugal said.

Yieldbot’s existing business works with a slice of publisher’s inventory that would probably end up on the open exchange and sells it at a better rate. In late September, Portugal will oversee the launch of a platform called ads.ai, a self-serve product that enables a publisher’s ad ops team to manage this process themselves. Ads.ai is designed for publishers that want to sell inventory directly and has two beta clients.

Portugal, who’s worked at IAC, AOL, Tacoda and Traffiq, has seen publishers facing down the same problems: “dealing with ad tags, flat CPMs and systems built for workflow, monetization or analytics, but not all three. A lot of the efficiencies in performance, yield and scale are in the platform, whether it’s the ad exchange, ad network or DSP, but they haven’t made it all the way to the publisher,” Portugal said. (more…)


Fraud-day With Forensiq: Detection Requires A ‘Holistic’ Approach

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

There’s fraudulent inventory out there. That’s just a fact of online advertising life right now. But if you don’t bid on it, then you don’t buy it. And if you don’t buy it, then you don’t get burned.

That’s Forensiq’s approach to fraud detection: Prevention is better than cure, especially in programmatic. Although Forensiq does provide a reporting service, its focus is on trying to deflect a risky bid before it’s made.

“We have a proactive solution that can sit in a pre-bid environment and return a risk score in five or 10 milliseconds to say, ‘No, don’t buy that impression,’” said David Sendroff, founder and CEO of Forensiq, which rebranded from CPA Detective back in March. “We also have JavaScript that can sit alongside an ad and allow us to gather aggregate details around things like viewability and traffic sources."

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Fraud-day With Integral Ad Science: 'The Way The Industry Measures Performance Online Is Fundamentally Flawed'

fraudThis is the second in a series of interviews with vendors combating the problem of ad fraud. Other companies participating in this series include White Ops, DoubleVerify, Forensiq, Moat, PubChecker and Telemetry. Read last week's interview with Videology.

When it comes to detecting and preventing ad fraud, Integral Ad Science is the middleman. That is, the company provides technologies and services to all constituents in the ad-buying ecosystem.

It has account management teams that help get its fraud-detection and prevention tools implemented and running. The team also acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers.

“If we see a publisher violate certain things like serve a whole host of ads to out-of-geography requirements or violate certain keywords in the campaign or brand safety policy settings, our account team will reach out proactively and try to rectify the problem,” said David Hahn, the company’s SVP of product management.

On the buy side, Integral works with the major demand-side platforms (DSPs) like Turn, DoubleClick Bid Manager and AppNexus, as well as with “several hundred brand advertisers” that include, according to Hahn, more than half of the Fortune 100. “We cover a fairly large footprint in the digital ecosystem,” he said. “All in all, we’re doing across all our products north of 2.5 to 3 billion impressions per day.”

On the sell side, Integral integrates with major networks, premium publisher exchanges and supply-side platforms to help police policies and increase media yield.
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Let's Go SaaS: Parsing Rocket Fuel's Purchase Of [X+1]

merging x rocketfuelAgencies and marketers are forcing change on ad networks.

Rocket Fuel's $230 million acquisition of [x+1], announced Tuesday, was about more than one ad tech platform's attempts to add new capabilities.

While Rocket Fuel will benefit from [x+1]’s strong data management, demand-side platform, and site-side optimization features, Rocket Fuel CEO George John said on the company's earnings call that agencies and marketers have begun to spurn insertion order-based media buying and to reduce spend with intermediaries that add layers between buyers and sellers of media. This has been a well-documented trend, but the speed of the transition may have caught Rocket Fuel somewhat off guard.

And if that's true of Rocket Fuel, a well-established and public-traded company in the programmatic arena, how many others are scrambling too?

Below is a rundown of some key facts about this deal and how it fits into the larger shift to self-serve programmatic.

What does Rocket Fuel get by buying [x+1]?

[X+1] has two businesses. The first is its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based suite consisting of data-management platform (DMP), demand-side platform (DSP) and website optimization. The second is a managed services-based media business similar to that of an ad network. The former represents the opportunity Rocket Fuel is going after.

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Rocket Fuel To Buy [X+1] For Estimated $230M

merging x rocketfuelProgrammatic ad network Rocket Fuel will acquire [x+1], an older ad tech company with a dual demand-side platform (DSP) and data-management platform (DMP) offering. The estimated value of the deal is $230 million.

The acquisition brings Rocket Fuel a strong direct-to-advertiser capability – an area where it is seen as lacking and where [x+1] has strength through client relationships with major marketers such as Volkswagen, Lionsgate and Intuit. [X+1] is also known for a first-party data-centric approach that leverages site optimization and audience targeting.

“The addition of [x+1] will allow Rocket Fuel to expand its portfolio of solutions to a larger addressable market,” Rocket Fuel CEO George John said in a statement. “Through this merger of talent, we will be able to offer our customers a comprehensive platform to more easily leverage their growing digital data assets. Our combined technologies will deliver exceptional results across the spectrum of online and offline channels.”

Under the deal's terms, Rocket Fuel will pay $100 million in cash and another approximately $130 million (5.4 million shares) of Rocket Fuel common stock. The transaction will close in Q4.

The acquisition was announced simultaneously with Rocket Fuel's second quarter earnings, in which it reported revenue less media costs of $54.7 million – 84% higher than Q2 2013. (Read the release.) However the company struck a downbeat note, lowering 2014 guidance owing to a confluence of negative trends: agencies directing more ad spend to trading desks or to direct partnerships with demand-side platforms, agencies avoiding exchange buying due to concerns over botnet traffic and advertisers and agencies managing programmatic spend directly using software.

Buying [x+1] will in part help the company to address the agency and marketer trends, according to John. "We're acquiring [x+1] as a way to inject enterprise software and SaaS DNA into Rocket Fuel," he said. "[X+1]'s know-how around enterprise software will be a powerful complement to our capabilities in achieving … results."

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Taboola Acquires Perfect Market, Enters Programmatic Ad Space with Taboola-X

Taboola and Perfect MarketContent recommendation engine Taboola has acquired Perfect Market, which develops a publisher-side solution designed to improve engagement, driving traffic, and monetization. Taboola CEO Adam Singolda wouldn’t disclose the deal’s terms, though he said it was a mix of cash and stock.

With the acquisition, Taboola will change from being a content discovery engine to being a content and product discovery engine. “We work with thousands of publishers, and the industry is looking for more innovation around monetization across the board,” said Singolda. Taboola will answer those publisher concerns by integrating Perfect Market’s monetization product, Perfect Ads, into the Taboola platform. The technology will power Taboola-X, Taboola’s first programmatic ad solution, which will serve both the buy and sell sides. Since Perfect Market and Taboola have shared publisher partners before, that has "allowed both companies to collaborate on the potential value that can be created by having both products integrated on a page," Singolda said, and give the company a head start in combining the two technologies.

The Perfect Ads platform decides what sort of ad content to serve based on user signals, like how the user arrived on the page or device type.

“If someone is on their mobile device, it might be better to serve them an article recommendation, but if they’re on the desktop and came in through search, it may be right to serve them a product ad,” Singolda said.

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