Vindico Aims to Inject Transparency Into Video Ads

vindico-usethisAmong the key questions for video ad buyers are these two: Did anyone see my ad? And did my ad run where it was supposed to? Without a set of standardized measurements for viewability and verification, companies have been forced to cobble together various technologies to gain insight into their investments.

Video ad server Vindico is trying to solve this problem with its new video ad measurement platform, Adtricity. Designed for both advertisers and publishers, the platform includes a ranking system and technology that evaluates the quality of video advertisements in terms of where they are placed, their appearance, and other criteria.

“What we found is many publishers will take a video ad, sell it as a linear in-stream TV-like execution, but it’ll end up in a banner somewhere below the fold, or it’ll be in a disposable player, etc. All of these things are viewer-less impressions, but publishers are still getting paid for it,” Vindico President Matt Timothy told AdExchanger.

Adtricity looks at the viewability, execution, content and traffic source of the ad. In terms of viewability, to get around measurement issues associated with IFRAME, Vindico relies on trackable pixels that are embedded in the video.

As the viewer scrolls through a webpage and the tracked pixels go out of view, the browser knows not to render that part of the image, which in turn tells Vindico how much of the image is still visible. “As 50% of the dots [pixels] go out of view, we know 50% of the ad isn’t in view either,” explained Vindico CTO Ezra Suveyke.

Additionally, Adtricity claims to know if a viewer clicks on another tab or layers another page on top of the page containing the video ad. The platform also supports CPA, CTR and other click attribution metrics.

“You’re no longer confined to this geometric form of measurement of what’s the X and Y coordinate of the video player,” Suveyke maintained.

To verify the execution of the ad, i.e, how did the ad look, Vindico says it has a panel of 800,000 users and web crawlers that capture a page’s layout for further analysis.

The pages are then ranked through an algorithm on a scale of A to F. Every page starts out with the highest score — an A — and points are deducted for incidents in the content such as pop-ups, profanity, hate speech, and redirects. The higher the frequency and number of occurrences, the lower the grade.

When combined with the name of the source, e.g., the ad exchange or network that provided the ad, users get a clear sense of how an ad is performing, Timothy said.

The platform — which will be generally available starting Tuesday — has elicited a positive response from both publishers and advertisers who welcome the move towards greater video ad transparency, Timothy added. That positive response also makes him “nervous.”

“What we’re nervous about is a very binary response,” Timothy said. “Meaning, for example, when we showed one agency what’s going on with their campaign, they saw something on their campaigns they didn’t like. They then got on the phone and said take that publisher off for the year — based on just one screen shot.”

Despite its name (Vindico is Latin for avenge or punish) the company’s goal for its new product is not to punish publishers, but to make the video market space “safer,” Timothy explained. “I think there’s fraud in the market, but I don’t think the guys doing the actual selling are necessarily trying to commit fraud,” he added. “I think there’s an enormous pressure to deliver, so what we want to do is build an environment where there’s enough time for remediation so that we can do this right. I don’t want to blow anything up. I want it to be a value-driven market.”

As part of its effort to push for a standardized set of measurements, the company’s method for tracking impressions and pixels is accredited by the Media Rating Council and it is in the process of getting Adtricity accredited as well.

According to Timothy, one of the company’s goals for the platform is to inject more fair prices into the ad market. “You’ve got pricing all over the map that doesn’t match the value of what an advertiser is getting,” he said. “The way we’ll be able to feel that the market is leveling out, is we’ll see some real pricing for real value, and then I’ll know we’ve had the effect we wanted.”

Headquartered in New York City and launched in 2006, Vindico was originally owned by the online video network BBE, which was acquired by the advertising firm Specific Media in 2010. Specific Media spun off Vindico as an independent subsidiary of the company in 2011. Vindico currently has 70 employees. It serves more than 250 brands, including television networks like CBS, NBC, and Fox, and agencies like Omnicom Group and WPP.



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  1. Grammar God

    Interesting article and product. It’s great to see a company interested in showing agencies/advertisers the hard truth – that sometimes we don’t even have their ad in view, much less pay attention to it.

    That aside, the technical reporting here may be more convincing if the author wrote IFRAME (or iframe) correctly. Writing it as “iFrame” completely misrepresents what it is, especially to the army of non-technical folks in this industry who think it’s an Apple product. It stands for “inline frame” and was well established in an IETC RFC before our handy personal gadgets existed.