GroupM agencies to offer digital ad verification


GroupM entered into two deals with DoubleVerify and AdSafe that will allow its media agencies to definitively verify that their clients’ digital ads run in the right place and at the right time. The steps address a growing problem in digital advertising in which impressions are delivered outside the intended parameters of a marketer’s strategic plan.  In some cases, the ads have appeared on pornographic websites and others containing material deemed offensive to most viewers, says GroupM.

DoubleVerify and AdSafe have developed new verification technology that tracks digital ad placement and notifies GroupM agencies (MAXUS, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia , Mindshare and Outrider) if their clients’ ads run contrary to campaign specs.

RBR-TVBR asked GroupM Interaction COO John Montgomery: Why do these campaign placements go to sites where they shouldn’t? “Well, billions of impressions are served on the web and a lot of those impressions are served by ad networks. These networks buy remnant inventory from a lot of the publishers, and what the publishers can’t sell at a premium, all of the ad networks buy from them. And ad agencies don’t have transparency in where those placements are placed. This tier II inventory is accessed through marketplaces where you no longer specify the vendor, you are now specifying the audience that you want. The ad networks then go to the publishers, which pay them a fee on unsold inventory, supply some type of targeting filter to that and the ads then appear on a series of sites. Some of these sites may be small, but many of them add up. The one down side of that is that the advertisers don’t have in most cases transparency to where their ads are appearing.”

Most placements in these tier II networks are for DR clients who need high volume audience placements, where they’re paying for cost per action. There is always the risk the ad will appear alongside inappropriate content.

So now they have the ability to see that is has gone there and stop it in near-real time?
Says Montgomery: “Yes, one is a verification technology which will tell you what has happened and whether it was bought within the specification of your insertion order. And then you can go back to the publisher and say let’s reconcile. The more sophisticated prevention technology can now sense where your ad is going, and now re-route it or prevent it from going to that site that is deemed unsuitable.”

The other area that needs to be resolved in the business right now, says Montgomery, is geo-targeting. This is because there are plenty of ads that are being served to people that are visiting a US site but are visiting from outside the country. This is happening on premium buys, not just tier II. From an advertising perspective, they may not be interested in someone visiting the site from Russia, because they don’t sell anything there. But that could be counted as a US customer by the publisher. “Agencies and clients need to understand exactly where their audience is coming from and there needs to be agreed exactly what specification is of a US visitor and the verification and prevention technologies are used to do that.”

Agreements were reached with the two separate companies after an extensive audit and a live test run on a campaign of over 500 millions impressions in December. AdSafe and DoubleVerify’s technology were found to suit the kind of campaigns and environments that GroupM clients run.

RBR-TVBR observation: So as much as Internet advertising has been hyped as being so accountable and reliable vs. traditional radio and television ad placements, it seems not to be the case. Looks like internet ads need to be tracked similarly as radio and TV ads are with MediaMonitors, Mediaguide, VMS and the like.