Back in March of this year, the conversation around quality in the digital media industry reached a fever pitch. While it wasn’t a new topic, and there had been a number of bold statements of commitment and requirement in the past (such as this or this), I predict that in hindsight we will find that early 2017 was the moment when quality became a necessity, as opposed to a nice to have.
There will likely be continued conversations about how widespread the issues are, and who’s ultimately at fault, but what’s not up for debate is that all of us in the industry have a responsibility to do our part to address quality concerns. If we don’t, we risk losing the trust and confidence of publishers, advertisers, and even worse, consumers.
At PubMatic, we believe in a holistic approach to ensuring quality for both our publishers and buying partners: safeguarding publishers from ads with malware, that are low-quality or don’t comply to publisher standards, and protecting advertisers from invalid traffic, questionable content, and non-viewable inventory. All of this must be done across all screens and ad formats.
To implement such a comprehensive solution, there are two critical areas that need to be addressed. The first is product and partnerships – the actual technology and information. The second is policy and process – what you do with that information.
PRODUCT AND PARTNERSHIPS
The speed at which the industry is pushing for new solutions and standardization around quality is second only to the pace in which ‘bad actors’ are developing ways around them. It’s unrealistic to think that any one company alone can fully address the broad set of challenges that fall under the ‘quality’ umbrella, while staying ahead of the opposition as they continue to get more sophisticated. That’s why it’s imperative for companies not only develop in-house solutions, but also to partner with best-in-class, third-party vendors to stay ahead. No one can be the best at everything.
At PubMatic, we leverage a combination of proprietary technology like our real-time ad scanning and creative classification tools, while also partnering with industry leaders (including IAS, WhiteOps, The Media Trust, and Confiant, among others). This approach allows us to build tools that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our solutions, while also tapping into our partners for their capabilities where we might otherwise be exposed.
POLICY AND PROCESS
One may ask, what good are the tools and partnerships if there is no protocol in place for taking meaningful action with the information received?
That is why we at PubMatic follow a well-defined process that includes goals and thresholds to ensure we meet quality standards, and have enacted a zero tolerance policy with our partners. For example, on the inventory quality side, we have implemented daily reporting reviews. If an issue is identified, there is immediate communication with the publisher to develop a plan of action. If improvements aren’t seen within a defined timeframe, we move to pause or terminate the account. It’s that simple. We’ve even established a dedicated Quality Compliance team to oversee the effort.
With an ecosystem so inextricably intertwined, we cannot afford for anyone along the supply chain to not consider quality and brand safety a top priority. It should be the mission of every company in our space to create a safe and trusted environment that uses products and partnerships supported by policy and processes that protect the shared interests of buyers, publishers, and the audiences they serve.