OpenX Blog

Integral Ad Science Chief Data Officer Breaks Down Big Data and Threat of Fraud on Mobile


We recently had a chance to speak with Kiril Tsemekhman, the chief data officer and senior vice president at Integral Ad Science. He shared his insights on the latest trends in the advertising industry, including Big Data and mobile ads.

Q: How do you define Big Data, and how does IAS put it to use?  

A: Big Data is an extremely broad term, and there is no common definition of it. On the one hand, it reflects an amount: When you say “big,” you imply that there is a lot of data. It encompasses both structured and unstructured data. You generate, collect, store and make it accessible for various applications and analyses. That’s when it becomes Big Data: it’s the data itself, the data stack of frameworks and applications designed to make this data accessible and analyzable and processes developed to make sense of the data. If you can’t make sense of the data – it’s not Big or Small – it’s useless.

The data Integral Ad Science collects and analyzes falls into this category, both because of the amount of data and how we only collect and store the information we can use for analytics and insights to create our data products. We use the data to understand the environment, the circumstances, and the way different advertising units are rendered and seen by users. We collect as much useful data as possible on each and every ad that is being shown and we are able to track. There are many data elements that we intentionally don’t collect today that we will probably collect in the future once we know how to put it in use.

Q: What kind of things do your clients learn from your Big Data analysis?

A: Our data has many different applications. One is client analytics which is essentially the aggregate-level view of how their campaign performed. We can report on the viewability of their ads on different sites and pages and how much fraud was present – if any, what the ad environment was like, how many risky pages were hit by their ads, etc. Building off our data, we also provide insights into how to improve campaign metrics.

The other application is what we call data products, or scores. Scores are statistical models representing different variables that we collect and analyze. For example, the average viewability on a specific placement (page, location, ad size, etc.) or on a particular page, that can be used both for analytical insights for clients as well to contribute to real-time decisions for clients who need to price the impression (bid), according to how much value it is likely to produce.

We also use our data to generate and apply fraud detection models, which are trained on large number of events and then applied in real time.

The same data is used to prevent ads from being shown on undesirable websites. We have a product called Firewall that combines real-time signals and placement level scores, using them to decide on the client’s behalf whether to show the ad or not.

Finally, the most advanced application of our data is the analysis of causal impact of advertising campaign on advertiser goals – which is the holy grail of any marketing. We determine how many incremental purchases (or interactions with the brand) were generated due to (‘caused by’) the ads shown to users.

Q: Why is media quality so critical in digital advertising?

A: To me, it’s like driving a new expensive car on a terrible road, or watching a great movie in a rundown theater. Here, when you create your message to the consumer, you hope to show it in a good environment. You try to do your best to engage the consumer with the ad – to make sure they see the ad and respond to it. To do this, you need the ad to be as viewable and as attractive as possible. You want the environment to be clean, giving the user a chance not only to see the ad, but to pay attention and engage with it.

When a person sees an ad, they tend to associate what they saw with the environment, so if the environment is bad, it is likely that that perception will be transferred to the brand as well. Given that so much attention and effort has been paid to finding an audience, the environment component has been somewhat overlooked, and that is potentially very detrimental not just to brand reputation, but also to the effectiveness of the campaign. In poor environments, ads have virtually no chance of producing a desirable effect on the audience.

Q: What is the True Advertising Quality Score (TRAQ) and can it improve ad placement strategies?

A: We treat it in some sense like a FICO score for the media industry, except that FICO is more of a risk management score. The TRAQ score is a combination of risk management and assessment of positive potential of ad placements. Not only does it include components that help eliminate risk, but it also allows you to select placements using the TRAQ score to improve the chances of the message reaching and engaging the user. Consider, for example, elements like clutter: if you have three ads on a page in front of a user, it is most likely that the ad is less effective than when it is the only ad on the page. Still, in either case ads are not totally wasteful. You just need to price them differently – and TRAQ will guide you in your pricing and bidding strategy. So, having a TRAQ score allows you to evaluate the quality of the placement that you are offered and to decide whether to choose to show the ad or not. If you decide to show it, TRAQ also serves as a guide to how much to pay for it.

Q: Your Company recently acquired Simplytics, a U.K.-based mobile ad service and analytics platform. How serious is mobile fraud, and how are you protecting mobile buyers?

A: Mobile marketing is already picking up a lot, and mobile analytics are becoming more fashionable and popular. There is little knowledge of the presence of fraud there yet, and the common belief is that it is very nascent at this moment. As the market grows there will be a lot of incentives for fraud to penetrate the mobile space. I think so far this is not a major market for fraud, but it will definitely be there sooner rather than later. The way that mobile devices will be compromised is also very different from how it’s done on desktops, and fraud detection and protection methods will have to adjust accordingly. With Simplytics technology, we are already working on various ways to detect fraud.

Q: So the goal of the acquisition is to create mechanisms to protect mobile buyers in the future?

A: It’s to expand the same services to mobile clients that we now provide to our clients in display advertising, and it includes not only fraud detection and protection but other media quality metrics such as brand safety for mobile applications. Furthermore, there is a huge concern about ads not being viewable because of lack of compatibility with different systems due to the industry fragmentation and concerns about media quality. We will also be looking into cross-channel and cross-device campaign effectiveness. We are talking about much more than just fraud.

Q: Your Company spearheaded video ad monitoring. How is this capability beneficial, and how does it enhance your ability to analyze the quality and usefulness of video advertising?

A: It’s a very successful new product. There is a lot of traction and interest in the online video advertising space both on the buy and sell side. It is also very important for our clients, particularly brand clients, for whom video represents a significant piece of their digital media budget and is an extension of their TV advertising. However, it is more measurable, less explored, and more risky than TV advertising. To make clients more comfortable with video we need to be able to measure user interaction with the ad from inside the player, and that’s a new technology that we developed. That’s what attracts brands, buyers, and sellers to work with us; we protect them from risky environments and help optimize their video advertising for viewability and better interaction with users.

Q: Finally, in your opinion, who’s doing a better job in leveraging Big Data – buyers or sellers?

A: It depends. I wouldn’t say it’s the buyers or sellers that take better advantage of Big Data. Among buyers, there are companies that are much better prepared, and on the sell side there are companies that have been in the business of data analytics for a long time, so I wouldn’t say that on the whole buyers or sellers are better at it.

Traditionally platforms are better prepared because they are technology players; you can find sellers – such as traditional publishers – whose core business is not analytics. They are becoming much more savvy. Platforms like exchanges, SSPs or DSPs are traditionally technological players, and they are the ones that push the boundaries and create new technologies and approaches to Big Data. So it’s not about whether it’s a buyer or seller, but who is more technologically advanced.

Want to Try Your Own Hand at Buying Programmatic? Serve Yourself!


By Sara Harnell – Director of Account Management, OpenX

Hardly a day goes by without an article touting the benefits of programmatic marketing. But what if your company can’t afford the cost of buying through a demand-side platform (DSP) or the resources to build your own real-time bidding engine? Does this mean you’re stuck on the programmatic sidelines?

The answer is fortunately no – thanks to self-serve programmatic, an equal-opportunity solution that lets all (legitimate) buyers get into the programmatic game.

OpenX has long offered a self-serve interface (OpenX Ad Exchange for Buyers) to allow buyers to create and manage their own programmatic campaigns. It’s an intuitive way for buyers to test the waters, and decide if they want to expand their budgets and resources to programmatic channels. It’s been quite successful with marketers in companies of all sizes that we’ve continued to build it out. Today’s it’s nothing short of a full-featured programmatic platform.

So the next question a reader considering programmatic for the first time may ask is: What should I look for in a self-serve option?

First and foremost, make sure that the ad exchange itself has access to plenty of multi-screen, high-quality audiences at scale. (OpenX has 65 of the comScore 100 publishers).

Second, make sure the interface is easy and intuitive so you don’t need a PhD in software engineering in order to use it. OpenX features icons for easy navigation and quick access to common tasks, breadcrumbs so you don’t get lost, Universal Search and a simple Action button for performing bulk operations. And a flexible dashboard lets you view various performance metrics for your orders, line items and ads.

Third, make sure it offers streamlined tools that have a direct impact on campaign creation and performance, such as day-parting, conversion tracking, hosted creatives, postal code targeting and the like.

Conversion tracking is especially important, given that a key benefit of programmatic is the way in which it allows you to do audience discovery. You want to track how the audiences you target respond to your ads, as well as which creative delivers the best response.

OpenX lets you do just that. You can easily create conversion tags that will track how consumers respond to the ads, as well add a piggyback beacon that is dropped with each conversion tag and collect additional information in your ad server.

Fourth, one of the best reasons to choose programmatic is the insights it provides into what works, and what disappoints. Make sure that your self-serve option has lots of reports for you to analyze (and pull at your pleasure).

Not to toot our own horn, but reports is one of the areas in which OpenX excels. You can pull campaign performance by geo (locations, DMA, state and city level), as well as domain, and easily block the underperforming domains straight from the report. And of course, you can generate performance reports by device and operating system.

Finally, select a partner that makes marketplace quality a top priority.  Traffic fraud has become a huge thorn in the digital ad industry.  Ensure that your partner has dedicated resources to remove suspicious activity from the inventory you’re buying.

As it happens, OpenX recently upgraded its self-serve interface for ad exchange buyers. You can learn more about it here.

The Truth About Traffic Quality: We Can Beat Fraud


By Ian Davidson – Sr. Director of Platform Demand, OpenX

The spotlight on traffic fraud in the online ad space has shined more brightly in the past several months. The most recent warning came from the Wall Street Journal online, which ran an article titledA ‘Crisis’ in Online Ads: One-Third of Traffic Is Bogus.”

It’s another reminder of what we’re up against. The IAB estimates that 36% of all web traffic is bogus, “the product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites.” The cost to advertisers is staggering: some $6 billion in the US alone.   Continue reading

Publisher Intelligence for the Perfect Media-Cocktail

Dimo Velev – Regional Director DACH, OpenX

In a recent white paper, Programmatic Everywhere?, The Winterberry Group reported that 91% of advertisers and 85% of publishers say they expect to deploy programmatic strategies within the next two years. Even more startling: 91% of digital advertising participants surveyed say they expect to “use a programmatic approach to support audience segmentation.”

The message is clear: programmatic has morphed beyond automated digital inventory sales; it’s increasingly used to leverage the rich datasets that are a byproduct of programmatic to better understand customers.

Given the momentum of programmatic – and its focus on demographic, contextual and behavioral data – many publishers are wondering how to integrate their first-party audience data into automated buying models. They also want to understand which are the best models to go about it. Continue reading

OpenX and Digiday Research Shows Significant Growth for Programmatic Mobile


Locke Truong – Director of Product Marketing, OpenX

You may recall a few weeks back that OpenX announced the launch of Native O|X, the first global programmatic platform dedicated to mobile-first native ads. Considering how new the whole concept of mobile app native advertising is, you could be forgiven for wondering if we were getting ahead of ourselves.

Actually, we spend a lot of time talking to buyers and sellers to see what they need now, and over the next few years (a veritable lifetime in our industry). We even go so far as to conduct formal research on critical market trends.

Continue reading

How the Fusion of Real-Time Advertising, Native and Mobile are Changing Digital Advertising

Rachel Adams  Marketing Director, EMEA

On April 2 at 12pm, OpenX will lead a panel at Advertising Week Europe titled How the Fusion of Real-Time Advertising, Native and Mobile are Changing Digital Advertising. We’ll bring industry leaders together to discuss how these three trends will combine to shape the digital advertising sector in the coming months and years.

One of the things that interests me most is the confluence of RTA, native and mobile, and what it means for advertisers who’ve been thwarted in their efforts to reach and engage consumers on their mobile devices.

It’s no secret that advertisers have their eyes on mobile; in 2013 61% of consumers in the UK carried smartphones; by 2016 that number will jump to 65%. More significantly, we’re never far from our mobiles, and use them simultaneously as we watch TV, use our laptops, and even shop in-store. Continue reading

3 Strategies to Tap into Global RTB Demand

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Amy Deavoll – Senior Marketing Manager, OpenX 

As we settle into 2014, it’s imperative to renew monetization strategies.  2013 confirmed that programmatic selling provides tremendous benefits with minimal effort.

However, to meet the rising demand for programmatic buying you must also safeguard your revenue, direct relationships, and brands.  Our new eBook provides three strategies for publishers looking to maximize their revenue with the help of real-time bidding.

Download our complimentary eBook and learn how you can:
•  Use price floors and sales controls to protect CPMs
•  Deploy whitelists and blacklists to minimize channel conflict
•  Protect your brand through multi-level controls

If you have been thinking about offering your unsold inventory to ad exchanges, this eBook will prove an invaluable guide.

Mapping Out the New Multi-Device Terrain

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Rachel Adams  Marketing Director EMEA, OpenX

Download Whitepaper

This week has been a particularly productive one spent at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, seeing numerous mobile device launches, the announcement that following its acquisition by Facebook, WhatsApp will launch its voice calling service and many more exciting announcements. So the tech world has been extolling the virtues of mobile, but what of the mobile users in the real world? In time for the second day of the Congress, Nielsen brought out their research that Americans, Brits and Italians consistently use their smartphones more than desktop devices. For instance, Americans spend 34 hours 21 minutes on their mobiles each month, versus 26 hours and 58 minutes on desktop computers.

In order to meet the surge in smart device ownership, global digital ad spend is expected to grow from £72.2bn in 2013 to £99.5bn in 2016, according to eMarketer’s Worldwide Ad Spending Forecast. Spend on mobile has grown sharply too, sitting at £8.2bn in 2013 and projected to run to £22.4bn in 2016. For some time now, marketers have been focussing on creating the ‘multi-screen moment’ as the primary and most powerful form of engagement with users. Monterosa have enjoyed significant publicity for their play-along mobile app for the popular game show The Million Pound Drop. Continue reading

Make Your (Mobile) Voice Heard!

dps survey

Locke Truong – Director of Product Marketing, OpenX

Are native and video formats on mobile devices ever going to adapt to programmatic buying? How are companies measuring success?  Who’s ultimately responsible for defining native?

Last year, OpenX and Digiday teamed up to pioneer the industry’s first collective look at “Programmatic + Premium.” This year, we’re exploring how the industry is adjusting to mobile, and we invite you to share your experiences.

The combined results will help everyone in the digital ad ecosystem know where to focus their efforts in order to make programmatic mobile a reality.

OpenX will present the results at the Digiday Publishing Summit (March 17 – 19 in Vail, CO.). We need your input to tell the whole story. Take the What’s Next for Programmatic Mobile survey now.

And in return for less than 10 minutes of your time, you’ll receive full survey results, as well as a chance to win a free pass to a Digiday summit or a $500 gift card.

Top 4 Components of a Comprehensive Mobile Plan


Mercedes Oz – Director of Demand Generation, OpenX 

Mobile is becoming ubiquitous, but the same cannot be said for mobile marketing strategies within organizations. Marketers find it difficult to build a strategy without securing executive support and budget, but they can’t secure support and budget without demonstrating past success.

Download this complimentary report entitled “The Mobile Marketing Playbook – A New Forrester Research Report” by Forrester Research, Inc. to reveal:

•  How to build a compelling business case to carve out a mobile budget
•  What metrics help predict results that support objectives
•  How a true mobile strategy affects other channels

As with any emerging channel, mobile will require testing, learning, and iterative growth to reach maturity. But you’re already missing opportunities if you’re waiting to evolve your own mobile maturity. Your customers are not willing to wait, and neither should you!