The Leading Ad Network (“Network”), at the forefront of the rapidly growing ad tech industry, had identified the need for a new URL database that would provide more granular support for categorization at the domain, sub-domain and sub-path level of URLs in order to address IAB™ requirements. As part of this process, the Network had also stated its objectives as improved inventory vetting, more effective ad placement and improved campaign reporting.
Leading Ad Network vendor with over 1 billion impressions monthly (“Network”)
Linux server “on disk” implementation by Network
“To drive growth and address new industry compliance initiatives, we needed a simple-to- integrate URL database solution that met IAB’s Tier 1 and other category requirements, as well as provided exceptional performance and aggressive CPM-based pricing due to our very high URL query rates.”- CEO, Network
The Challenge: Improved Effectiveness of Ad Placement
The Network was a pioneer in the ad tech industry; however, customers were requesting improved ad placement effectiveness, particularly for social network and blogging sites such as Facebook.com, blogspot.com, and other websites increasingly being targeted by advertisers where the content was changing and being updated continuously at the sub-domain and page levels.
Further, the dynamic nature of these types of websites made them particularly attractive for hackers, so the Network was also faced with the need to avoid ad placements on malicious and compromised websites. These problems include:
- Ad inventory needed to be vetted in light of new IAB compliance requirements.
- Real-time category lookups for URLs being targeted for ad placement.
- Ad placement reporting, including category data.
- Ad placement on inappropriate websites – as websites become more and more dynamic, with content changing more frequently and sometimes continuously, the Network’s ads were increasingly being placed on websites with inappropriate content and targeting the wrong audience.
- Social sites – the Network’s existing systems and database only supported base domains, however, sites such as Facebook.com, Blogspot.com, and others have significantly different content on different sub-domains and sub-paths. This led to significant issues and precluded broad campaigns for certain websites.
- Infected websites – the worst case scenario, where the website with the ad actually hosted viruses and spyware, which raised serious customer and branding concerns.
- Lack of verification and real-time monitoring/reporting – the Network’s database of websites did not provide the extensive coverage required to provide an acceptable level of verification. Additionally, the Network had virtually no ability to perform real-time monitoring and/or reporting on its ad campaigns, resulting in delayed response and transparency of reporting to its customers.
The Network recognized that, in order to meet compliance requirements, improve ad placement, protect its brands and continue to grow its business, it needed to significantly improve the URL content database used for ad placement, verification and reporting.
“Our existing database and systems simply weren’t designed for today’s Web. In addition to developing new campaign management tools, we needed a database with broader and deeper coverage of the Web, that was able to keep up with continuously changing content of the most popular websites, and that could eliminate ad placement on infected sites.”- CEO, Network
The Solution: Implementing a URL Content Database
Once the Network made the decision to implement a new URL content database as part of its systems upgrade, it conducted an evaluation process of several vendors using the following criteria:
- IAB Compliance – category support for the IAB Tier 1 and other categories defined by IAB.
- Coverage & Accuracy – an evaluation of the vendors’ URL database coverage and accuracy for over 10,000 URLs identified as missing or inaccurate in the Network’s existing database, as well as other randomly selected URLs from the Alexa™ top 100,000 list.
- Coverage for Social websites – an evaluation of the inclusion of sub-domain and sub-path URLs for social websites (such as Facebook.com, Blogspot.com, Youtube.com, etc.) within the database, including the ability to distinguish different content between different sub-domains.
- Website Revisit and Recategorization – a test was performed to determine how often the vendors revisited websites with changing content and updated their database.
- Malicious Website Detection – an evaluation of the vendors’ coverage and detection abilities of malicious websites was performed, using a range of internal/external sources for websites identified as hosting spyware, malware or other threats.
- SDK Performance – the vendors were asked to prepare SDKs for the Linux Debian environment utilized by the Network, with the evaluation focusing on the ability of the SDK to support the required peak-hour URL query volume.
Upon completion of the evaluation, the Network selected zveloDB® as the clear winner.
“We really liked a number of items with the zvelo offering. The alignment and support for the IAB categories, very fast performance for our high volume of URL queries, CPM-based pricing model, ability to dynamically update the zveloDB as content of websites change, as well as the coverage and accuracy for social sites and the very strong coverage for malicious and infected sites convinced us that zvelo was best able to address our database requirements and help us strengthen our offering.” – CEO, Network
The Network finished the upgrade of its campaign management systems, including the integration of the zveloDB SDK with real-time lookups to zveloNET™, enabling real-time automated categorization of new ActiveWeb* sites.
Network’s Web Filtering in Action
The Network integrated the zveloDB and immediately saw improvements in ad inventory vetting, better coverage, real-time monitoring and reporting, and elimination of ad placement on malicious and infected sites.
The Network’s processes and use of the zveloDB is very straightforward. On a 30 minute cycle, the Network’s systems batch all ads and targeted URLs and queries the zvelo DB SDK, which performs a fast lookup in the following order:
- First – The “Custom” database (the Network was able to utilize some of the URLs from their legacy database).
- Second – The zveloDB URL Database.
- Third – The zveloNET Cache database, followed by a query to the zveloNET Master Database (at the zveloNET “cloud”). The queried URLs and associated category value(s) are returned to the Network’s Campaign 2.0 application, which then identifies any specific, inappropriate or malicious ad/URL combinations for review.
zveloNET’s ability to harness the collective web activity of all of the users of the zvelo customer base provides the basis for the extremely high coverage and dynamic changes of the ActiveWeb and malicious websites. Each additional user increases the breadth of ActiveWeb sites visited and categorized, thereby further increasing the coverage and malicious website detection for all of the collective users.
Ease of Integration
The Network required a simple and proven SDK that could be implemented on the Linux Debian version utilized by the Network for their Campaign 2.0 application.
“The zvelo SDK integration was very straightforward. zvelo prepared a Linux Debian SDK tailored for our specific needs and we had excellent engineering support throughout the integration and subsequent go-live.”- Director of Development, Network
Benefits of zveloDB
zveloDB’s 99.99% coverage of the ActiveWeb sites visited by users, combined with zveloNET’s real-time AutoCategorization and malicious detection support for new sites and changes in content for social sites, provided the Network with significantly improved ad placement effectiveness and eliminated ads being placed on infected or compromised sites.
The Network was able to make much-needed improvements to its ad campaign verification, ad placement and reporting. Further, the upgraded Campaign 2.0 systems cut down dramatically on the customer and brand issues that the Network had been experiencing.
“The zveloDB has been an important part of the overall improvements we have experienced with our upgrades. We have been able to successfully address the issues we had identified and are well positioned to continue our growth and efforts to become the leader in the ad tech industry.” -CEO, Network
*ActiveWeb – those websites visited by actual users.