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P&G’s Pritchard challenges ad vendors: Clean up media supply chain or we’ll invest elsewhere (link)

MRC’s YouTube Audit Takes Aim at Brand Safety Woes (link)

Online ad fraud is a ‘widespread’ problem, Google and other big ad platforms admit (link)

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With recent headlines like these, there’s no denying that ad fraud is top of mind for the entire ecosystem.  In fact, according to eMarketer, media quality (brand safety, ad fraud and viewability) was ranked by 50% of US digital marketers as their #1 challenge of media buying.

Attacking fraud at the source would require a vast amount of time, money and resources. It would also be impractical and fruitless with new sources popping up like weeds. 

The Chain is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link
The Media Rating Council (MRC) issued its Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines Addendum and noted that “Sophisticated Invalid Traffic consists of more difficult to detect situations that require advanced analytics, multi-point corroboration/ coordination, significant human intervention, etc., to analyze and identify.”

This is a much-needed wakeup call that the digital advertising ecosystem needs companies to partner and work together to conduct “extreme vetting” – ensuring a rigorous and continual screening of inventory. 

Not All Inventory is Created Equal
Currently, most marketplaces have one or two third-party quality providers to do traffic rating. That could happen during pre-bid and/or ad-serve time. These checks and balances worked well in the past. But as fraud becomes more sophisticated, it’s simply not good enough. You need to have a better anti-fraud mousetrap.

If you’re familiar with RhythmOne and its unified programmatic marketplace, RhythmMax, you are likely aware of our proprietary filtering technology, RhythmGuard which rigorously screens all inventory, eliminating suspicious or underperforming traffic pre- and post-bid. But perhaps you aren’t aware of how very different our approach is to detecting and combating fraud. At the core, we have created our own quality “scores”. We partner with, and get scores from, not just one or two measurement providers, but with all the industry leading and emerging quality measurement. In addition to just raw scores on requests, we get many other white and black lists from these providers that we incorporate into our scoring/filtering algorithms that with the help of machine learning, generates the RhythmGuard score for a request. The RhythmGuard score is therefore a more comprehensive score than most of the other supply players in the industry.

As noted above, RhythmGuard acts on ad requests at two different stages. Pre-bid and Post-bid. When ad requests come in, RhythmGuard checks its data sets to see if that request is an Invalid Traffic (IVT) request. If the request is invalid it is dropped.  If the request passes through all its checks, RhythmGuard lets the request go through our ecosystem and onto relevant DSPs. Once the bidding process is finished (at impression time), RhythmGuard again runs its checks to ensure there was no domain, IP, User Agent spoofing, in addition a lot of other variables, to ensure that the impression is not IVT. This multi-staged approach ensures that RhythmGuard is always at the top of its game in weeding out IVT and ensuring that there are multiple gates for stopping bad traffic from entering our ecosystem. The result is that advertisers don’t have to reconcile discrepancies after the fact - they can bid on inventory (currently ranked #1 in quality by Pixalate) and feel assured it is not suspicious. 

In my next blog, I’ll reveal details of the various filters we use and the role each of our measurement partners play in the process of providing the cleanest inventory available.