Agencies tackle digital ad verification

Toronto-based Media Contacts and US-based GroupM announce the implementation of digital ad verification technologies for online ad network buys to better track media strategy executions.

As Citytv Toronto weatherman Michael Kuss likes to say, ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t track it’ and it’s an approach being adopted by some media agencies to better track their online ad network buys.

This month, two media organizations (one Canadian, one US) have announced agreements with technology providers to implement internal digital ad verification systems for their online ad network media buys. The first, Toronto-based Media Contacts, announced this month that it has implemented a new technology into its agency’s digital infrastructure (in partnership with an as-yet unnamed technology firm) that allows the agency to independently track and verify the placement of its ads in online networks. The software works by collecting the URLs of the sites where each ad appears and then categorizing them for agency review.

The goal, says Chris Williams, managing director, Media Contacts, is to create stronger relationships with the networks it works with while protecting clients’ interests by tracking ad placements internally. He notes that the concern is not just the quality or type of website an ad may appear on, but to track glitches due to software or human error as well.

‘We believe this is a win-win-win situation for the quality networks that we work with, for our advertisers and for us,’ he tells MiC. ‘It creates verifiable points of difference in terms of quality of environment and execution that we can take into account when determining price and mitigating risk. Auditing protects the advertiser’s brands from inappropriate media placements, defends quality networks’ pricing and builds trust in the agency’s proposals and execution.’

The technology is still in testing phase at Media Contacts, and Williams says the results thus far have been promising, indicating that most networks delivered on the strategies as promised.

In a similar move, New York-based GroupM announced this week that it has entered into agreements with two technology companies that will allow the agencies under its umbrella (MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia, Mindshare, and Maxus) to independently verify the placements of ads in online networks.

In a release this week, GroupM Interaction COO John Montgomery said that the goal was to ‘prevent ads from being placed adjacent to inappropriate content or outside campaign specs.’ Removing the onus of verification from Master Services Agreements and putting it into the technological realm would be a ‘major advantage’ to advertisers who traditionally have been ‘wary’ of the online space, he said in the release. As of press time, word was not available as to whether or not the partnerships would extend to the Canadian offices of GroupM agencies or not.