Better Advertising Becomes Evidon; CEO Meyer Discusses New VivaKi Agreement

EvidonYesterday in an article by AdWeek’s Katy Bachman, behavioral ad self-regulation tech company Better Advertising announced that it is changing its name to Evidon and that Publicis’ VivaKi had signed on as a partner to utilize Evidon’s services to provide the “i” and privacy controls to consumers within display ads. Read more.

Evidon’s CEO Scott Meyer discussed the news, the new brand and company strategy. Why the name change? And any meaning to read into with the word “Evidon”?

SM: As a company name, The Better Advertising Project made sense for the early days of this company. There was an element of experimentation to what we were doing—helping the industry figure out a way to implement a self-regulatory initiative.  But we’ve been in market at scale since July 2010—empowering consumers with a robust ad notice experience on billions of monthly impressions, helping all kinds of companies comply with the now established industry self-regulatory program in an easy, business-friendly way, and spearheading new initiatives, like the Open Data Partnership, which give consumers even more transparency and control. We also continue to add more features and functionality to our very popular Ghostery service.  So, we’re a company now – one whose name should reflect the essence of what we do – bringing clarity to the online community. We chose Evidon to evoke a connection with the word “evident,” signifying our commitment to that mission.

If more companies get the DAA’s seal of approval to provide the “I”, how does Evidon differentiate – is it all about being a first mover?

Compliance with what is essentially a Federal mandate isn’t something any company should entrust to an unproven solution.  Thus, being first and currently the only in-ad notice solution in production is huge.  That’s what industry leaders like VivaKi and GroupM recognize, and why they’ve chosen us. The industry doesn’t have any time to waste.  But, it’s more than us just being the only proven technology solution operating at scale.  Any company entering the compliance space that thinks it’s just flipping a switch once you get approved by the DAA is in for a big surprise. Unfortunately, so are their test clients.  This is a complex compliance situation.  Before an advertiser launches, there are many technical and legal/privacy issues that have to get worked through between and among the company, agency, advertiser, network and all the respective lawyers and privacy people.  What may seem simple gets really complex very quickly – and that’s before any impressions are served.   For our clients, fortunately, it really is closer to flipping a switch, because we’ve already done it, literally billions of times.

Will Evidon branch out into other solutions such as ad verification?

Ad Verification is a really different business.  There are a number of companies that we respect who are good at it, and it plays a role in the ecosystem.  Being good at it, however, has no bearing on being effective at OBA compliance.  We’re focused on our core business, which is compliance and direct extensions of it—and we created a new type of platform for it, the Assurance Platform– that our clients are asking us for.  We’re actively involved in the OBA self-regulatory effort in the EU, and our platform is already scaled outside the US.  We’re going to deploy multiple language support soon for US and foreign users.  In addition, we’ve entered the data leakage space.  Our Ghostery service has a large opt-in panel.  That panel provides us with data to create a powerful, proprietary map of every third-party tracker on the top 5 million domains, based on anonymous, aggregated data we collect –all without the publisher having to deploy any code on their own sites.  This enabled us to create Evidon InLight – a data leakage solution for publishers and advertisers.  We have a number of clients in production for InLight now, and many brands are buying it as a package with in-ad notice and site notice.  We’re also in R&D in the mobile space.

Your new partnership with VivaKi is the second (after GroupM) of its kind among the holding companies. Do you anticipate more of these types of holding company relationships? Does it make sense to go directly to the marketer at some point?

We’re already in production with 5 of the 7 largest agency holding companies. And we expect these relationships to deepen, yes.  The holding companies and their agencies all realize that they need to get ahead of this, that’s why they have all been so active as our Design Partners since late 2009.  We’re working directly with networks, DSP’s and marketers as well.  As I noted earlier, this is a high-stakes decision.  It is much more strategic and complicated than keeping your ad from running on porn sites or attesting to a site’s privacy policy.  The client’s marketing and legal/privacy teams are typically very involved in choosing us.  Also, brands who have third party tracking for OBA on their own sites need to provide notice, and are concerned about data leakage.  We have direct brand relationships in place beyond those we’ve already announced that we expect to make public shortly.

A year from now, what milestones would you like Evidon to have accomplished?

There’s only one that matters – leading the sustained success of the DAA’s self-regulatory program.  If people still have doubts about our industry’s ability to deliver meaningful self-regulatory practices on every data-driven impression, then shame on all of us.  We’ve become Evidon because we want to be thought of as the company making industry best practices evident to consumers, regulators, brands, agencies and others through our technology.  We’re well on our way now, and we fully expect to be leading this charge a year from now.

By John Ebbert

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