Click Forensics CEO Pellman Discusses Impression Inflation, Competitive Set And New Platform

Click ForensicsClick Forensics announced the “beta version of its display ad verification platform which it says “Protects Against Impression Inflation and Fraud.” Read the release. spoke to Click Forensics CEO Paul Pellman about the news. Please define what you mean by “impression inflation.” How pervasive is this issue and how do fraudsters pull it off typically?

PP: Impression inflation is not necessarily fraudulent activity, although that can certainly be part of the problem. We define impression inflation as anything that happens in the ad-serving chain that would mislead the advertiser into believing its campaign delivered more impressions to the target audience than it actually did. A simple example would be a botnet impression that’s counted as a human. Another example might be an ad delivered below the fold that’s never seen by an actual human being, but the impression is counted and billed. Impressions delivered in the wrong geo or daypart also shouldn’t count. Then there are the malicious schemes, such as ad stuffing (displaying multiple ads in the same ad unit for a very brief period), and invisible pages (malware opening pop-unders or 0x0 browsers to pull ads). These methods can inappropriately pad impression counts and invoices, reducing overall advertiser campaign effectiveness. The best ad networks and publishers want to assure advertisers that their campaigns are free from these inflated impression counts and their budgets aren’t being wasted.

Do you offer ad serving capabilities, too? Potentially, it would seem Click Forensics could start a media business. Thoughts?

No, we have no plans to offer ad serving capabilities or to start another ad network. We prefer to provide technology and data to our ad network and publisher customers and let them use it to differentiate their offerings.

Looking at the competitive set, it would appear that others such as AdSafe Media, Mpire’s AdXpose and DoubleVerify offer a similar toolkit. How do you differentiate?

We view our offerings as complementary to brand safety companies like DoubleVerify and AdSafe because they’re helping to solve an important part of the ad verification problem — making sure the page on which an impression is served is appropriate for the brand. While we take some of these aspects into consideration, we’re also auditing and measuring each individual impression or ad visitor, much like we do for search advertisers. This helps advertisers to see that the impressions they paid for were in fact delivered and viewed by the intended target audience. Examples of the attributes we measure in addition to publisher URL include the visitor data (is it human? is it a known fraudster? is it in the target audience?). Mpire’s AdExpose is more similar to what we’re doing. However, our offering is different in that it takes advantage our industry-leading click quality engine, massive community data set, and more than four years of experience in search traffic quality management.

By John Ebbert

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