In today’s digital advertising ecosystem, only the highest-quality ads will achieve the best results. But with the rules for advertising quality rapidly changing, from viewability guidelines to brand safety concerns to combatting ad fraud, it’s often too much for marketers to solve on their own. We caught up with Raju Malhotra, senior vice president of products at Conversant, to get his take on the importance of ad quality and how marketers should approach it.
Q: How do you define ad quality?
RM: Ad quality is about looking at viewability, brand safety and fraud detection holistically. That means the ads are viewable by humans in brand-appropriate environments. Many marketers consider these components separately to measure the quality of ads. But, when these three areas are considered holistically, marketers can solve all the pieces of the ad quality puzzle at the same time, resulting in a much greater impact.
Q: Why are there fragmented solutions to measure ad quality versus holistic solutions?
RM: This is due to the evolving nature of the ad tech industry. Innovation tends to start out as point-solutions, which usually tackle one problem at a time. That’s why we have the fragmentation. We know from speaking to CMOs that they care about ad quality versus just its components. When advertisers buy digital media, they expect that real people are viewing their ads, that their ads appear within brand-appropriate content and that impressions are actually viewable. To give them the best possible ad performance and value, we can’t just tackle one area at a time.
Q: Is ad performance the same as ad quality?
RM: Ad performance and ad quality are related but they are not the same. Marketers measure the performance of a campaign based on different key performance indicators. These are sometimes tied to a direct response – like a conversion – and sometimes to building brand equity. Even if there is no immediate conversion, there is a positive impact on lifetime value if you create a good experience with a consumer. Reaching real consumers with relevant ads in the brand appropriate moments that matter will help you drive incremental performance and revenue over time.
Q: What risk does poor ad quality pose to a brand that doesn’t address it properly?
RM: Poor ad quality will impact ad performance. Depending on the issues at stake, brands face different consequences. If your ads are not showing up in a brand appropriate context, you may deliver a poor customer experience, offend your customers and, worst of all, lose them forever as a result. Brand safety used to mean something very crude and high level but Conversant looks at brand safety according to brand appropriateness. For example, serving an ad for an R-rated movie requires different standards on where that ad appears compared to marketing baby food.
Another risk is fraud. If any subset of a brand’s ads are being viewed by bots (as opposed to real humans), not only are valuable advertising dollars being wasted but ad performance metrics are incorrect and advertisers are left with unreliable data.
Q: What’s to come for ad quality?
RM: We expect to see the technology behind measuring ad quality woven into the fabric of today’s marketing technology stack. The standards for measuring ad quality will also mature. Ideally we want to make ad quality decisions before serving the impressions to consumers. That’s the approach Conversant takes today and we expect to scale that further.
Q: If brands want to improve ad quality, what should they do?
RM: Brands should connect with a world-class partner to help them navigate ad quality—one that delivers ads using a very rigorous, technologically scalable environment that improves quality across the three critical areas I mentioned before: viewability, brand safety and fraud detection. Only then can brands be confident that they’re maximizing their campaigns’ effectiveness.
At Conversant, we follow an eight-step process, including our proprietary Ad Quality Index, to ensure the quality of the ads we deliver. All in all, it’s an approach that’s unparalleled in the industry.
For more information on these eight steps, download our white paper: The Ad Quality Conundrum: How to deliver the highest standards in viewability, brand safety and fraud prevention