Thursday, August 19, 2010

Market For Verification Still Early

I recently participated in a discussion thread about brand ads showing up on torrent sites. Yes, this is my sad life. But there was surprising incredulity that in this age of publicity around verification and transparency, brand ads could actually appear in inappropriate places - it's as though people expect that every ad impression online is being protected by a verifier/ad blocker. Here's my response to that way of thinking...

It's still very early. Market penetration of proactive ad blocking (note: big distinction between this and simple "verification" where an auditor is actually incentivized to wait until issues arise and chase down make-goods) is miniscule. General verification as a whole covers less than 100B impressions per month. While media buyers and networks alike are embracing the technology it will be another few quarters (at least) before ubiquitous verification starts putting the bad actors out of business.

But even then, 100% brand safety is simply unrealistic. It's the typical arms race scenario: As long as there are media dollars doled out to fly by night traffic aggregators, there will be incentive for nefarious behavior and technology implemented to enable it. In a world where this is the reality, your best bet is to find a real technology that addresses the issues honestly and transparently. Or stick to the WSJ homepage.

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