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Excellence in Ad Quality: How PubMatic Protects Publishers and their Audiences

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By Eric Bozinny, Senior Director, Marketplace Quality
September 7, 2022

’Two ships passing in the night’ is an apt description of the relationship between inventory quality and ad quality. The latter is critical to buyers as its aim is to ensure that media investments are made against supply that is brand safe and avoids invalid traffic. The former looks at the flow of ads from buyers to publishers and is focused on protecting publishers and their audiences from malvertising and allowing publishers to tailor ad quality preferences.

There are three main areas of ad quality of concern to publishers: malvertising, the technical classification of creatives, and the content of the creatives themselves. Solutions that address these are critical for publishers to strike the right balance between growing ad revenue and protecting their audience.


Malvertising is when ads ‘laced’ with programming code force or otherwise trick users and their computers or phones into taking actions that are not allowed, desired or expected. This may result in an action that is simply annoying, such as a forced redirection of the browser to a site that appears to be offering the user a prize. It could also execute code that installs malware on a user’s computer that can be used to control where the browser navigates. These are among the outcomes that are undesirable and reflect poorly on the publisher as the user will naturally feel their trust of publisher has been undermined.

Technical Classification

Ads come in a variety of formats and sizes. These technical differences are referred to as ad classifications. While many are desirable by all publishers, others may impact the user experience leading some publishers to block them from being served. Examples of ad classifications include animated ads, ‘heavy’ ads that are slow to load due to file size, and audio ads without the option of muting.

Content Categories

Buyers and their ads can be categorized across hundreds of IAB categories. These help the publisher understand what commercial industry or topic the buyer hopes its message promotes. Some categories are widely accepted – like shopping or ecommerce – while others require more scrutiny and review by the publisher – political is a good example – before these ads are accepted and allowed to be shared with audiences.

PubMatic’s Strategic Investment in Ad Quality

PubMatic has invested in improving ad quality; building a solution utilizing third-party technical partners, internal product development, and more streamlined processes, including:

  • Partnering with Confiant, which specializes in identifying malicious ads. Their team and technology scan every creative submitted by buyers for potential security issues.
  • The development of PubMatic’s RTAS (Real-Time Ad Scanning) infrastructure that interfaces with Confiant and its malvertising decisioning, which scans each creative to identify other technical reasons which may impact quality (such as heavy ads, video errors, and ads with undeclared audio).
  • Dedicating a team to manage the processes where advertisers are categorized based on their business and products, publisher-specific blocklists are monitored, and undesirable categories and classifications are identified – protecting publishers.

Proof is in the Pudding

Twice a year, Confiant publishes a Malvertising Ad Quality (MAQ) benchmark report which focuses on the most impactful malware schemes launched against publishers and their audiences and summarizes the state of ad quality in the programmatic industry. Using client-side data measured from publisher pages, Confiant also highlights the performance of major SSPs in terms of security and quality.

Over the past several years, PubMatic has continued to improve its ranking among its peers, ranking highly in Confiant’s 2022 H1 MAQ report.

Even as PubMatic remains vigilant in protecting the interests of our advertisers and publishers, bad actors will continue to invent novel ways of using ads to disrupt the user experience. With our technology and expertise – along with the support of partners like Confiant – we will continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve so publishers can focus on creating content, building audiences, and increasing revenue.

This commitment and focus on improving ad quality for our publishers has reaped dividends. As evidenced by Confiant’s MAQ Report SSP rankings, publishers can view PubMatic as one of the most reliable SSPs providing a high level of protection against malvertising, while also offering them the necessary tools to control the classification and categorization of ads they are willing to accept.

Get in touch with the team today to learn more about how we’re helping publishers increase revenue and maintain the integrity of their content.