Advertisements are everywhere, from print publications to road-side billboards, and of course TV and on the Web. The intent of advertising is no different regardless of the medium. Advertisers are constantly feuding to win over consumer sentiment. On the Internet, ad-serving technologies have become so advanced that ads can now be targeted based on one’s individual web browsing history and behaviors, likes, shares, location, device type and other factors. From time to time, however, ad placements land severely out-of-context, and here is one such example of online advertising gone bad.
Online advertising has become a central part of our digital lives. Advertising publishers and platforms supply billions of ads every day. Ensuring that ads served are contextually accurate and brand safe for the target audience is critical to a safe and secure internet.
zvelo once offered 53 categories that were used to classify content on websites about Businesses & Services, Politics & Law, Portal Sites and others. This was later raised to 141 categories to help cover even more topics. The latest version boasts nearly 500 categories, making it one of the most granular categorization sets in the industry. We’ve managed to upgrade our categorization systems to better serve the needs of our existing and future technology partners and following is one example why this matters.
Given the dynamic nature of the majority of today’s websites, categorization at the full path URL versus the base domain is superior and now required. Parts of a website include the top-level domain (.com, .org, etc.), the base domain (example.com), sub-domain (subdomain.example.com) or sub-path (example.com/page). When categorizing content, it is highly important to recognize exactly what is being classified within a website because content can differ dramatically across full path URLs.
zvelo has received many requests from its technology partners who are in the web filtering and parental control sectors to institute and support a new category that can be used to identify websites that promote self-harm behaviors. As a result of such demand, a new “Self Harm” category has been added to the zveloDB® URL database.
Reports are plentiful of non-human bots gaming the online advertising industry by delivering fraudulent impressions and click traffic, and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) took note. The IAB released the “Traffic Fraud: Best Practices for Reducing Risk to Exposure” on December 5, 2013, to help online media buyers, publishers and ad networks mitigate the dilemma.
People don’t seem to worry much about privacy when “checking in” to a favorite local restaurant or coffee shop, or from other social media posts that reveal one’s location. What if you were approached by a complete stranger who knew your name and other personally indefinable information within minutes after making an upload? A few socialites got quite the shock after a social media experiment revealed how much personal information can be extracted from publicly viewable status updates.
Ad blocking has gained wide consumer acceptance over the past couple of years and a PageFair report suggests it could be costing web-based businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost advertising revenue. In some instances, ad blocking negatively impacted a select number of websites so much they are no longer online. With the use of ad blocking software on the rise, there exists a significant requirement by the ad-tech market to make the most of those actual ad placements that make the cut. In other words, it’s more important than ever for ad units to be in-context with content on web pages, no matter how deep within a website the placements land.
Consumers will soon know exactly how much of their personal information is being collected online, by whom, and may one day be able to correct errors or opt-out entirely from such activity. The name of the game is “privacy” and thanks to a combination of recent investigative reporting and pressure from advocacy groups, regulatory entities and politicians, the urgency to reach this point is now mainstream news.
There have been two notable botnets that have cost online advertisers millions of dollars in advertising click fraud in recent weeks. The first botnet, Bamital, was taken down by Microsoft and Symantec in February. A second botnet was later identified and dubbed Chameleon by Spider.io, a security company that specializes in analyzing web traffic. Since zvelo is also in the business of analyzing and categorizing web content viewed by actual users, this story resonated hard with zveloLABS.
The display advertising process has been pretty consistent over recent years. Advertisers like Coca-Cola, AT&T, and State Farm Group plan and buy available advertising space on publisher websites. The planning and buying is conducted by someone in-house or an outside advertising agency or independent marketer is brought in to facilitate. The use of an advertising platform usually follows and serves to disperse the actual ad units across various web properties for people to consume. People then have the choice to view and click-through on an ad depending on how enticing the offer or messaging is. What happens if an ad unit is not served and people don’t have the opportunity of reacting to it because it simply did not appear? That’s precisely what comScore revealed in their U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2013 report.