Tell me about the AdWatch offering you just announced?
In the fast-paced world of real-time programmatic advertising, when ads are sold and placed to the right user in a fraction of a second, it’s important to be able to slow down and view the actual ad. AdWatch enables viewing each ad and upholding brand safety protection while providing complete transparency and control to ensure that the publisher’s standards are met and that the ads don’t include unpleasant visuals, IP infringements, or counterfeit goods. Now, publishers seeking the highest level of ad content quality and control can solidify their brand’s content strategy, avoid ad-related annoyances and ad quality issues. With the range of GeoEdge’s automated ad and content management tools and technologies, AdWatch provides a touchpoint to the company’s comprehensive and holistic solution.
How can publishers use AdWatch to keep their users safe while maintaining revenue?
Publishers face a delicate balancing act. They’re vigilant in their fight against malicious, inappropriate, or non-compliant ads because these deceptive ads hurt the revenue of 48% of publishers, according to research from GeoEdge. But as part of this process, 49% say that they’ve inadvertently blocked ads that are not malicious or deceptive.
To help publishers, AdWatch is the industry’s first offering which enables them to hit pause and view any actual ad to review the ad and landing page content, then decide if it should or should not be blocked. This gives publishers greater peace of mind while ensuring that the process is completely transparent.
COVID-19 has impacted every industry. How has it impacted malicious and inappropriate ad content?
COVID-19 has influenced malicious and inappropriate content in a number of ways. First, as you’d expect, there have been malicious campaigns around fake equipment and vaccines for treating COVID-19. Second, with research showing that 80% of marketers reduced ad spend due to COVID-19, publishers aggressively sought out advertisers while their user engagement metrics soared, opening their inventory to less known and malicious advertising partners. And third, the fact that many are working from home means that they don’t have the same level of device and software/application protection as they do in the office with an IT team. Therefore, many more fell victim to malvertising attacks than in previous years.
Beyond this, we’ve been seeing an increase in the sophistication of malicious advertising attacks in the last few years, and that trend only accelerated in 2020. From sophisticated credit card scam attacks like Morphixx to malicious ads running on nefarious cloned sites, we’re experiencing an increased intricacy in the use of content marketing on the part of malicious marketers. It’s as if malicious marketers have hired their own Chief Marketing Officers.
To address these increased challenges around malicious and inappropriate content, publishers need to be more diligent with how they monitor and manage their content around brand safety. This is why we launched AdWatch.
You work with publishers, but why are the issues GeoEdge is addressing also important for marketers?
As the famous quote goes, ‘it takes a village.’ And that’s also true in the fight to eliminate malicious and inappropriate content from publisher’s websites and apps. Though the focus must be on the publisher’s content, we as an industry need to work together to ensure that we adopt best practices that stop malvertising and other undesirable content. For example, programmatic exchanges have enabled malicious and inappropriate ads to run on many sites and apps. We can only stop this by including all of the industry’s stakeholders in the process to ensure that brand-safe protections are in place.
If marketers and their agencies make working with brand-safe and content appropriate publishers a priority and help their preferred publishers achieve this goal, we’ll end up providing a better experience for users, greater revenue for publishers, and more conversions for marketers and their agencies.
What challenges do publishers face because of the programmatic ad exchanges and how can they be addressed?
Publishers have turned to programmatic exchanges as a fast and easy way to generate advertising revenue. By working with programmatic exchanges, publishers can engage with thousands of potential buyers in real-time.
And therein lies the problem: to reach thousands of potential buyers, publishers rely on a tangle of demand partners — in the programmatic waterfall, in the header, server-side, in-app, and elsewhere. For example, according to our recent research report with AdMonsters, the median number of header bidding partners publishers have onboarded is 8-10, and those aren’t even all of the demand partners a publisher will work with using programmatic exchanges.
The more demand sources, the greater the challenge in rooting out the source of malicious or inappropriate ads.
Instances of malicious ads being served via programmatic exchanges have been well-documented in MarTech Series, including here and here.
So how can publishers address the malicious challenges that come with programmatic advertising? The truth is, many publishers are already addressing these challenges by working with solutions that stop malicious advertising. But not all of these solutions are created equal. As I mentioned earlier, 49% of publishers inadvertently block non-deceptive or malicious ads in their race to keep their sites and apps safe. In an attempt to keep their users safe, they’re reducing revenue by denying safe ads.
GeoEdge provides publishers with a proprietary technology solution to combat the new challenge of cyber meeting social engineering which mitigates the false-positives scenario described earlier. Based on over a decade of ad security experience, GeoEdge addresses the new front of malicious attacks facing publishers, their supply-side partners, and their unsuspecting users today using advanced content-based analysis of deceptive ads and deep landing page analysis based on our proprietary behavioral analysis technology.
And AdWatch was specifically developed by our team to address the issue of false positives described above by giving publishers a chance to view the ad in real-time.
Congratulations on the 2020 Global Advertising Integrity and Verification Customer Value Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan. What’s the significance of this award?
The Customer Value Leadership Award in Global Advertising Integrity and Verification from a well-known and respected consulting and research firm like Frost & Sullivan provides customers with one more reason to rely on GeoEdge, particularly for less technical executives who trust the validation of Frost & Sullivan. This award serves to further differentiate GeoEdge’s solution for publishers.
As we head into 2021, what issues around malicious and inappropriate content should publishers be focused on?
We’re expecting malicious and inappropriate ad content to only increase in 2021, as it has in the last year.
Malicious content – where malicious advertisers create fake and deceptive content to look like trusted content was a big trend in 2020, and unfortunately, we’re certain that that trend will continue in 2021 as malicious advertisers create more sophisticated websites and apps to lure unsuspecting users.
The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines will undoubtedly result in many malicious ad campaigns targeting unsuspecting users. We’re also expecting more in-app malicious activities in 2021, particularly as more people start using mobile payment solutions installed on their phones. This will create a new path to people’s wallets through their phones, and with malicious advertising, you always have to follow the money trail.
With the increasing challenges that publishers will face in 2021, GeoEdge’s product development team is hard at work upgrading our solution to fight current and future challenges like malicious and inappropriate ads and content – with tools like AdWatch.
You can expect more new functionality in the new year as we continue to support our publishers, their users, and marketers against the evolving threats to brand safety and user safety.
Thank you for answering all our questions!
Guy Books is a VP, Product at GeoEdge
GeoEdge is a Cyber Security company operating in the Ad Tech industry!
GeoEdge is recognized as the premier provider of ad security and verification solutions for the online and mobile advertising ecosystem.
The company ensures high ad quality and verifies that sites and apps offer a clean, safe, and engaging user experience. GeoEdge guards against non-compliance, malware (malvertising), inappropriate content, data leakage, operational, and performance issues.
Leading publishers, ad platforms, exchanges, and networks rely on GeoEdge’s automated ad verification solutions to monitor and protect their ad inventory.