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4 Reasons Why Blockchain Could Be the Answer to Programmatic’s Problems

Brian Blondy, November 18, 2018

There is plenty of buzz in the programmatic industry today about integrating blockchain technology into the ecosystem.

Blockchain is most often explained as a continuously expanding list of records, or blocks, connected by encryption that is stored across a distributed matrix of computers globally.  Blockchain’s distribution across a grouping of computers links together a ledger of all of the transactions that occur within a particular blockchain.  The idea behind a chain of computers is to distribute information across many computers rather than on just one, to increase security and decrease the likeliness of a hack against one machine.

New entries into a blockchain are created by data miners who are incentivized to be the first to solve complex mathematical puzzles for writing new transactions into the blockchain.  The first to solve the puzzle receives a financial reward, commonly paid in BitCoin, as a reward for their effort.

The advantage of blockchain is that it is secure and its records cannot be altered without causing all of the previous records across all of the computers in the blockchain to be modified as well. The longer the blockchain, the more secure it becomes.  Therefore, the likeliness of the chain itself being modified at all decreases due to the strength of the blockchain’s global structure across many linked computers.

Growing interest of its applicability is due in large part to its proven ability and success in serving as the public transaction ledger for managing crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, as well as potentially providing its structure and versatility for non-crypto currency use cases such as for art auctions, banking transactions, and environmental issues.

Many believe that blockchain’s potential viability in supporting the programmatic industry is rooted in its value in addressing some of the most significant weaknesses in the programmatic industry today – ad fraud, lack of transparency and diminishing profits.

Here are four reasons why blockchain is considered a valid solution for making programmatic transactions more secure, profitable and transparent for both publishers and advertisers.

Improved Security in Transactions

Blockchain can prevent ad fraud by securing financial campaign transaction with the use of 256-bit encryption, ensuring that only the ad inventory that was sought to be purchased in the end is.

The programmatic industry needs a system of checks and balances to ensure that every company involved in the campaign transaction is aware of the actions of each actor involved.

When a programmatic transaction is made a message is passed to the network to approve or disapprove the legitimacy of the deal. Programmatic ad buyers are understandably interested blockchain technology because it will enable programmatic transactions to become more transparent, and increasingly more trustworthy, especially so when transactions are undertaken with third-parties who are not directly related to the core buyer and seller.

 

 

A blockchain provides all parties an open and decentralized ledger that all parties can verify at any time.  While it is possible for nefarious actors to write lies into a blockchain, no one is incentivized to do this due to a large amount of computing power needed to solve mathematical puzzles for validating and creating new records (ledgers) in the public blockchain.

 

Greater Confidence via Transparency

The emergence of blockchain in the programmatic industry has the possibility of improving the relationship between buyers and sellers in the programmatic supply chain, in addition to sharpening industry standards and increasing security.

Publishers and advertisers alike are currently frustrated with the lack of transparency that takes place behind the scenes of an ad buy. Ad fraud is rampant in the programmatic industry and is estimated to have cost publishers $1.27b annually, and conversely, a recent report by AdLedger titled, “Blockchain & Advertising Special Report,” says ad fraud is especially rampant for advertisers, costing $19b in 2018 alone on the buy-side.

Most ad fraud commonly comes from the following three scenarios:

  • Bots – Automated programs that produce false website impressions which as a result increases the real web traffic received and the ad revenue they earn.
  • Domain spoofing – Content owners mask the real identity of their website by claiming that they are a more popular domain. Domain spoofing causes advertisers to pay for impressions that never appear on premium websites.
  • Human fraud – Click farms employ people to click on advertisements, engage with websites and fill-out forms in order deceive advertisers that the ad engagement is happening when it is not.

 

In all three scenarios outlined above, it’s clear that advertisers appear to be the ones suffering most from ad fraud. According to a 2017 study by Fraudlogix, an ad fraud solutions specialist serving global DSPs and SSPs, an evaluation of 1.3 billion random ad impressions over 30 days found that 247 million of the monitored impressions, roughly 19 percent, were found to be either fake or bot-generated. Despite the optimism, figures released in March 2017 point to ad fraud costing advertisers $16.4 billion in wasted ad spend globally during the current calendar year, a number which amounts to a total loss just short of 20% of the whole digital ad spend worldwide in 2017.

 

Increased Profit Margins

Blockchain’s value comes from bringing transparency to all parties within a public transaction. As a result of this transparency, both publishers and advertisers can reach more sound evaluations about their margins and determine which vendors are providing the highest financial value relative to their cost.

As of today, an ad buy passes through several sets of go-betweens (and sometimes more than several) before it reaches the publisher and consumer. When a publisher reviews their finances about their monetized impressions, it is quite common for a publisher to only yield 30% for the impression after all of the actors involved in the programmatic food chain have taken their share.

In order to address the consequences of ad fraud, both publishers and advertisers have begun using third-party verification services for verifying ad delivery. Agencies are pushing these fees onto publishers, who as a result raise CPMs to compensate for the increase in expenses.

Third-party verification fees vary in price depending on how many products an advertiser chooses wants to use. Commonly an advertiser will choose to use a combination of tracking, anti-fraud and viewability products, which can add up to nearly $2 per CPM. Not surprisingly these expenses are passed along to publishers, who as a result are seeing less profit due to the sunk cost of doing business in the programmatic industry. For further information about third-party verification fees, AdWeek recently published an excellent in-depth discussion about these so-called ad-tech taxes, see the article here.

Blockchain’s digital ledgers will reduce some of those inefficiencies by de-intermediating the market for advertisements, radically reducing ad spend waste by exposing unnecessary third-parties from being involved in the transaction.

 

 

 

Growing Appreciation and Adoption 

The emergence of blockchain in the industry has the possibility of improving the relationship between buyers and sellers in the programmatic supply chain, thereby sharpening industry standards, increasing security and reducing unnecessary third-parties from the transaction.

In July 2018, the IAB Technology Laboratory, a non-profit research and development consortium that produces and provides standards, software, and services to drive growth of an effective and sustainable global digital media ecosystem, announced details about its Blockchain Working Group pilot program to demonstrate the applicability and value of blockchain technology for programmatic advertising.  Partnered with leaders from across the supply chain, FusionSeven, Kochava Labs, Lucidity, and MetaX, the group is striving to test and evaluate the how Blockchain can address the primary pain points in programmatic “from data discrepancies to supply chain transparency.”

Additionally, the Adledger “Blockchain & Advertising Special Report,” found that a substantial majority of ad executives believe that the future of the programmatic advertising industry will eventually be linked and secured by blockchain technologies. The report surveyed 100 senior advertising executives about blockchain and its importance in the programmatic industry. When asked whether they believe that Blockchain is the future of programmatic advertising, more than 70% of the executives responded that they either “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” with the statement.

Blockchain’s central benefit is its ability to provide transparency and accuracy in its reporting, and there is a growing sentiment among advertisers that blockchain has the power to improve the industry. “ The AdLedger report found that 31.3% of marketers think blockchain can solve the industry’s problems, while 37.7% say maybe and 13.4% say no.

Optimism about blockchain is now evolving into actual use. Toyota and its ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi recently ran a trial with Lucidity to test whether a blockchain-based technology system would yield better programmatic ad campaign performance.

Not surprisingly the campaign resulted in a 21% better performance with blockchain than without by tracking and excluding suspect websites and bot fraud from the campaign.

Beachfront, a leading ad tech provider for video publishers, has also begun integrating cryptographic and blockchain based technologies into its ad platforms to enable better targeting for ad campaigns, in addition to offering post-campaign verification for video ads across all devices (desktop, mobile, connected TVs).

Beachfront’s cryptographic and blockchain technologies create a detailed and permanent record of each campaign which allows for publishers to provide evidence of ad delivery, which audiences received the impression, as well as enabling advertisers set-up more precise targeting and optimization for their campaigns.

Blockchain’s central benefit is its ability to provide transparency and accuracy in its data, and there is a growing sentiment among advertisers that blockchain has the power to improve the industry. According to the AdLedger report, 31.3% of marketers think blockchain can solve the industry’s problems, while 37.7% say maybe and 13.4% say no.

Just over 50% think blockchain will reduce the number of intermediaries in the supply chain, with 34.8% saying maybe. More than a third, or 39.4%, agree and 32.4% strongly agree that blockchain is the future of advertising.

 

Concluding Thoughts 

The emergence of blockchain in the programmatic industry offers a compelling case for improving the relationship between buyers and sellers in the programmatic supply chain. As a result, blockchain could effectively assist in improving industry standards, increasing security and reducing unnecessary third-parties from the transaction.

Proponents of the technology may very well be correct in believing that blockchain’s viability in supporting the programmatic industry would effectively address three of the most significant weaknesses in the programmatic industry today – ad fraud, lack of transparency and diminishing profits.

Though for blockchain to be considered a viable measurement and validation tool, it needs to be universally adopted by both sides of the programmatic ecosystem as a recognized standard. Perhaps a critical mass of adopters will emerge in 2019 and create a new status quo for how the industry self-regulates itself.

Where things stand today, it easy to see why blockchain is considered a valid solution for making programmatic transactions more secure, profitable and transparent for both publishers and advertisers.

There is plenty of buzz in the advertising industry about integrating blockchain technology into the ecosystem, and we are expecting the conversation about the technology to grow louder and the integration of the technology to begin to scale in 2019.

 

 

 

Brian Blondy is the Marketing Manager at Total Media.  

You can contact Brian by email at brian@totalmediasolutions.com or on LinkedIn

Introducing the new Total Media logo

Brian Blondy, July 30, 2018

 

 

 

Dear Valued Total Media Blog Reader,

 

We are proud to announce that we launched a new logo today, marking the most significant change to our visual identity in 13 years. Founded in 2005, we have grown to become one of the most trusted companies in the programmatic industry.  On the eve of our upcoming website launch as well as our planned corporate presence at DMEXCO in September 2018, the refreshed logo pays homage its previous iteration while simultaneously pointing the way toward the next chapter of our evolution. The new logo aims to visually express our focus on expanding our ability to deliver a full spectrum of technologies, media and services across our evolving portfolio to both publishers and advertisers.

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Our legacy logo, unveiled in 2013, has been refreshed to now anchor the word ‘TOTAL’ in a bright and dynamic RGB color spectrum. The inclusion of the stylistic roots of the previous logo, as well as the addition of color, is meant to visually convey our mission, maintain historical continuity while at the same time, present a stunning visualization of the evolution and totality of our expansive portfolio for both publishers and advertisers.

“Our mission as a company is to provide the highest level of interaction between our clients and media platforms by providing expertise and access to leading partners and services,” said Sivan Tafla, CEO of Total Media. “We believe that our new logo will act as a welcoming and trustworthy signpost to both publishers and advertisers, new visitors and existing clients alike, who are seeking core technology platforms, holistic monetization, actionable data-insights, first-class consulting, and value-added services.”

 

 

The new logo has been rolled out across our digital and physical properties around the world and is currently the foundation of a stylistic re-design of our new website for better serving the needs of publishers and advertisers worldwide. The new site is scheduled to be unveiled in early September 2018. New marketing materials will use the refreshed logo going forward.  Existing materials will continue to use the current logo during the transition period. We appreciate your kind support.

 

Would you like to schedule a meeting to meet with us at DMEXCO?

sales@totalmediasolutions.com

 

Brian Blondy is the Marketing Manager at Total Media.  You can contact Brian by email at brian(at)totalmediasolutions.com or on LinkedIn

 

Here’s How Google Blocked 1.7 Billion Bad Ads in 2016

Brian Blondy, February 15, 2017

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In 2016, Google aggressively policed its ad ecosystem, DoubleClick ADX, by identifying and blocking 1.7 billion ads that violated its advertiser policies.

Google has sought to clear any and all ads which demonstrated intent to deliberately deceive users, contained malware or redirected users to 3rd party app stores.  The blocking of nearly two billion ads effectively doubled the amount of flagged violations Google handed out compared in comparison to 2015.

Announced in a self-published report outlining its push to purge non-compliant ads from ADX, Google disclosed that they have stopped 80 million deceptive ads, 112 million malware ads and 68 million ads for unapproved pharmaceuticals.  In addition, 7 million ads attempted to outsmart Google’s detection system and 23,000 mobile advertisements used redirects to a third-party app store.

In the fight to maintain a standard of ad quality, Google has had to adapt and constantly improve its ability to identify malicious advertising which often goes undetected by Google due to geo-targeting, dayparting and network targeting. 

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Ben Erdos, VP Platforms & Services at Total Media, commented that bad creatives have far reaching effects throughout the internet beyond breaking Google’s rules for the ecosystem.

“Malvertising is a threat to users because it erodes faith in the advertisement itself and it is a threat to the user’s technology, their identity, and their hardware. Specifically, it can download spamware, ransomware, and malware. Such occurrences create enormous risk throughout to the lowest scale to users, in addition to draining bandwidth, and data plans later on,” said Erdos.

As gatekeeper of its own buy-side and sell-side platforms, Google stands to benefit from aggressively pursuing non-compliant advertisements on the buy-side to maintain publisher confidence that the delivered ads are of the highest quality.

Though despite Google’s best efforts to combat bad advertisements, the industry operates mainly through tags and that any nefarious party can manipulate the ADX auditing systems by rotating in bad adverts within already approved adverts, thereby modifying the ad rotation after the fact.

Ad fraud happens when Google’s automatic auditing process eventually approves acceptable advertisements for ADX and then an advertiser decides to add in new third-party tags on their own ad server into the already approved creatives.  

Google’s interest to push advertisers to adhere to their policies within the ADX ecosystem provides publishers and advertisers a high level of certainty and trust that the ecosystem is solid and a safe environment for all.

Though the reality is that the chances of stopping more fraudulent advertisements would amount to an extraordinary amount of additional measures and resources throughout the auditing process for Google, whom are already doing an exceptional effort as compared to their industry counterparts.

Additionally, a bad advertisement is most often flagged through an SSP rather than from publishers themselves reporting a malicious advertisement.  As per usual, AdX will stop the bad ad before it is published or is running for a significant amount of time.

Publishers need not worry if they see a bad advertisement published on their website.  As a first step, a publisher can send an ad’s click-through URL to the AdChoices program in order to work with the website’s official Google contact to report and address the issue.  In our experience, once a bad advertisement is reported, Google will take swift action to take down the advertisement.

 

If you require your company is looking for advertising solutions for maximizing your marketing activities such as DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM), DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM) or DoubleClick Search (DS), you can send us a message here.

 

Brian Blondy is the Marketing Manager at Total Media.  You can contact Brian by email at brian(at)totalmediasolutions(dot)com or on LinkedIn

 

AdX vs. AdSense – Which one is right for you?

Brian Blondy, March 30, 2016

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Advertising is your financial lifeline and one of the most important aspects you can focus on to increase your website’s revenue stream.  As a publisher it is essential to optimize and monetize your traffic in order to maximize the revenue you earn from your website.  Two of the most obvious options for generating significant financial returns are Google AdSense and DoubleClick AdX. Today, we’re going to compare them and let you know which one is potentially right for you.

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Digital Video in 2016 – The State of the Market for Publishers

Brian Blondy, February 9, 2016

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In 2016, digital video content will become a publisher’s most essential and effective tool for engaging and monetizing the waves of traffic visiting their websites.

According to a study conducted by Cisco on global internet traffic and the trends pushing forward in the coming years, consumer internet video traffic is expected to account for 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic online in 2019.

Video content is so much more visually dynamic than simple textual content in how it creates an additional element of stickiness for visually pleasing and engaging users, and as a result, further lengthens website visits and overall consumption of content.

Though the clearest benefit deriving from creating and displaying video content lies in video’s ability to yield significant financial returns for publishers who pair the content with advertising. Eager advertisers are willing and ready to pay high CPMs to distribute their advertisements on the video content.

So if the benefits for having video content are clear, why haven’t more online publishers begun producing original video content in order to meet the surging demand of users and advertisers?  

Continue reading “Digital Video in 2016 – The State of the Market for Publishers”

What You Need to Know About Preferred Deals and Private Auctions

Brian Blondy, December 10, 2015

Introduction to Preferred Deals and Private Auctions

The programmatic industry has fundamentally changed the way publishers and advertisers interact with each other and how they buy and sell premium media online. In the not-so-distant past, publishers and advertisers used to communicate directly and negotiated placements and CPM for premium ad placements amongst themselves. Even more recently, if an advertiser wanted to buy premium media through programmatic direct, the only traffic that was available to purchase from the SSP was the leftover remnant traffic.  Programmatic is changing the transaction for the better, not only because of emergence of the efficiency of the transaction but also because more and more premium ad inventory is available to be purchased programmatically.

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The Publisher Strikes Back: 5 Strategies for Combating Ad Blocking on Websites

Brian Blondy, November 1, 2015

Online publishers are faced up against ad-blocking apps that are removing display ads from a visitor’s view. As a result, the ever-growing presence of ad blocking software is sending the digital advertising ecosystem into a substantial crisis. Supporters of ad blocking software often remark that the apps increase website loading speed, decrease data consumption on mobile and reduce website design clutter.

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Total Media is Now a Google Certified Publishing Partner

Brian Blondy, October 1, 2015

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Let’s get down to business: Total Media knows what it takes for your website to excel with Google publishing solutions

As one of Google’s Certified Publishing Partners, Total Media can help your business thrive. Google selected us for this program based on our proven expertise in DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and DoubleClick AdExchange (AdX). We’ll help you monetize your sites as well as work with you on properly managing your inventory in order to earn as much as possible from every impression.

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iOS 9: What You Need to Know About Ad Blocking on Mobile

Brian Blondy, September 8, 2015

 

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Released on September 9, Apple’s newest iteration of its iconic iOS software is decidedly more focused on providing speed, privacy and user control to its users.  Notably for the first time in its mobile OS, Apple’s iOS 9 is allowing developers to create ad-blocking apps/plugins for use in Safari iOS to prevent advertiser ads from appearing in Apple’s web browser. Apple’s decision to move forward with ad-blockers to be available in the iOS app store will have many cascading ramifications and new questions to be asked for publishers and advertisers alike.  Despite these changes, publishers and advertisers should know that despite the changes that are emerging, we believe that the sky is not falling.

According to a Dec. 2014 eMarketer report, advertisers will spend nearly $600 billion dollars in 2015, with more than 10% allotted to mobile advertising.  iOS represents more than 50% of mobile traffic in big markets such as the USA, UK, Japan, France and Scandinavia. We are sure that publishers and advertisers are already well-aware of the significant portion of mobile traffic Safari represents. The idea that iOS will become more controlled raises many new scenarios for the mobile section of the programmatic industry. Let’s take a look at content blocking to see if it really will impact your bottom line.

Continue reading “iOS 9: What You Need to Know About Ad Blocking on Mobile”