Integral Ad Science (IAS) is a measurement and analytics company that builds verification, optimization and analytics solutions that empower the advertising industry to effectively influence consumers everywhere. SpotX has teamed up with IAS to offer post-campaign reporting on brand safety, viewability and fraud metrics that help publishers verify and optimize their inventory. With this new partnership in place, we knew it would be valuable to sit down with Mike Kim, IAS VP of Product Management to pick his brain on brand safety trends. Here’s what he had to say:
Domain spoofing has been an issue in the ad tech industry for quite some time and continues to persist, as we’ve seen with the recent “Hyphbot” scandal. What actions is Integral Ad Science (IAS) taking to combat domain spoofing and prevent future attacks?
Domain spoofing has been top of mind for the IAS fraud team. Solutions like ads.txt offer a partial solution, but issues like domain spoofing point to a larger challenge for the industry that require a more holistic solution to resolve. Hyphbot is a great example of the complexity involved in combating non-human traffic fraud. The Financial Times found fraudulent video inventory running on 15 separate exchanges, but that inventory could just as easily have been banner ads stuffed with video. That’s why a solution that accounts for factors like player size is so critical.
At IAS we offer domain spoofing reports to platforms to help shed light on the issue, and ads.txt will be incorporated into our products in time. More importantly, IAS has the largest suite of programmatic offerings in the market and the most comprehensive set of programmatic solutions. Our goal is not to act as alarmists, but instead to provide solutions. Our technology identifies behaviors indicative of bot activity and proactively filters out that traffic—a serious, meaningful, and comprehensive solution to bot fraud.
At IAS we see more impressions than any other independent fraud vendor, which allows us to more accurately quantify these so-called “scandals” to put them in perspective. Often the “scandal” is only a scandal for those that aren’t leveraging fraud detection. The size of a bot scandal is all relative. It’s interesting that some vendors are identifying specific amounts of fraud via estimates of lost revenue which are based on a fixed CPM. IAS believes that our role is to talk to our advertisers, notify them if there are any significant irregularities, and to proactively provide solutions to those problems.
In response to the heightened activity in domain spoofing, many ad partners and publishers have begun to adopt ads.txt. How will IAS incorporate this initiative into its solutions for publishers and advertisers?
As ads.txt adoption increases, IAS will continue to evaluate how we can incorporate it into our verification, optimization, and analytics solutions for both publishers and advertisers. Today we see this as a potential for ads.txt signals to be incorporated within IAS verification capabilities to provide reporting that uncovers authorized versus unauthorized impressions. It could also be leveraged as an additional layer of protection within our pre-bid ad fraud protection and will be included in our publisher-dedicated UI to streamline the workflow of enabling or certifying media resellers.
Overall, it’s great to see the industry moving towards transparency and developing tools that give all sides of the ecosystem the power to optimize towards success.
Domain spoofing is clearly an industry-wide issue. Have you seen this fraud type carry over into in-app environments with bundle id spoofing?
Currently we don’t have a lot of hard data on the magnitude of the problem industry-wide. However, we do know that both bundle ID and location spoofing are issues facing in-app environments. After all, where there is money to be made fraud will naturally follow.
The in-app environment hasn’t been subject to as much scrutiny as desktop, but as focus shifts to mobile, I expect to see more solutions emerge for in-app. There is already growing momentum behind the movement to figure out how we can bring ads.txt to in-app. The current question is where the file should be hosted for app publishers, which is somewhat more challenging than the root domain used for ads.txt on the web. There is also a lot of interest in ads.cert, a process for authenticating data in the bid request which would help to combat spoofing and falsification of geographic IP and device data.
What does the future hold for viewability and fraud measurement in VAST environments, particularly for in-app environments including CTV?
That’s a big question with a lot of big nuanced answers, but broadly speaking, we’re very optimistic about measurement and transparency within VAST environments. We anticipate that future VAST standards will drive greater measurability, as will our direct integrations with players and ad servers. Furthermore, the Open Measurement SDK will greatly increase our footprint which will have a direct impact on the scale of our ability to measure.
How do you anticipate the IAB’s open source viewability SDK and the new VAST 4.0 viewability spec will impact the industry?
One of the most obvious short-term consequences will be more spend moving toward mobile as more people can verify that their campaigns were viewable and to optimize for success. Increased transparency will allow people to spend more and spend more effectively.
VAST 4.0 will also reduce reliance on VPAID which will allow for less brittleness, fewer opportunities for breakage, and more measurement options for video inventory. Here, again the ultimate goal is to move toward greater transparency and improved viewability targeting. These qualities are already available to display buyers and these latest changes will bring those same opportunities to video.
About Mike Kim
Mike Kim is the VP of product management, programmatic at Integral Ad Science (IAS). Mike Kim oversees the product strategy and initiatives for IAS’ programmatic technology.