09 Dec

Eight Indicted for Causing Tens of Millions in Losses in Ad Fraud Scheme

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) presented a wide-ranging indictment charging eight individuals with 13-counts of wire fraud, computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering for allegedly masterminding and operating the 3ve (pronounced “eve”) and Methbot digital ad fraud scams.

The DOJ charged the individuals with amassing in upwards of $30 million of fraudulently earned ad revenue from advertisers seeking to place ads on prominent global websites.

The defendants allegedly used a server farm and a sophisticated botnet of computers to simulate the delivery of billions of impressions which never appeared on websites or were ever viewed by actual internet users.

The accused are Aleksandr Zhukov, Boris Timokhin, Mikhail Andreev, Denis Avdeev, Dmitry Novikov, Sergey Ovsyannikov, Aleksandr Isaev, and Yevgeniy Timchenko. Ovsyannikov was arrested in October 2018 in Malaysia; Zhukov was arrested in November 2018 in Bulgaria; Timchenko was arrested in November 2018 in Estonia, all under provisional arrest warrants issued at the request of the United States.

All of the arrested await extradition to the US, while the other five remaining defendants remain at large. (DOJ)

The DOJ indictment also includes seizure warrants authorizing the FBI to take control of Swiss bank accounts, 31 internet domains, as well as search warrants authorizing the FBI to extract information from 89 computer servers which formed the infrastructure of the botnet network of computers which engaged in the digital advertising fraud.

 

How The Ad Scam Worked

Between the years of 2014 to 2016, the accused individuals operated a purported advertising network (Methbot) to carry out the digital ad fraud operation.

The defendants arranged partnerships with global SSPs to place ad tags across their network of websites in exchange for ad revenue payments.

Rather than placing the ad tags on actual websites, the defendants instead utilized nearly 2,000 US-based computer servers to load ads onto fake websites by “spoofing” the ad impressions across more than 5,000 domains.

In order to create the illusion that actual human beings were interacting with the ads, the accused programmed datacenter servers to simulate internet activity – fake mouse movement, the starting and stopping of video players, and falsely showing users signed into Facebook on the websites.

An agency or advertisers looking to purchase inventory on premium websites would see the name of the prominent publishers on the ad exchange even though the site was, in fact, a masquerading as a legitimate version of a website. The bots would then visit the fake site and view the impressed ad to generate revenue.

The internet scheme falsified billions of ad impressions and caused defrauded advertisers more than $7 million for ads that were never actually viewed.

The defendants leased over 650,000 IP addresses, assigned multiple IP addresses to each datacenter and then fraudulently registered the IP addresses to create the illusion that the datacenter servers were residential computers belonging to internet users subscribers to local internet service providers.

In parallel, the accused are purported to have also operated an additional, and more profitable, advertising network (3ve) to carry out another advertising fraud scheme in addition to the Methbot operation.

The defendants operated a global botnet of 1.7 million malware-infected computers – each infected with hidden browsers which downloaded fabricated webpages and loaded ads onto these websites.

The actual owners of the infected computers were unaware that the ad fraud process was running in the background of their computer.

In total, the internet scheme falsified billions of ad impressions and caused defrauded advertisers more than $29 million for ads that were never actually viewed.

According to security firm Proofpoint, a vast majority of the millions of infected computers acquired the malware after being tricked by misleading ads shown on websites such as Pornhub.com, which stated that their browser or Adobe Flash required a “critical” update.

Industry experts believe that the malware included “anti-forensic” characteristics which prevented it from being detected or removed from infected computers as well as having digital self-awareness not to load itself onto already malware-infected computers which might by association blow their cover upon discovery.

 

How the Ad Scam Was Stopped

According to Buzzfeed News, Google and WhiteOps partnered together to begin analyzing information about a botnet they were both tracking in the first months of 2017.  The bots by design were programmed to visit specific websites in order to generate page views and ad impressions that resulted in ad revenue for the fraudsters.

In the following months, the botnet managed to evolve and modify its behavior after measures were taken to filter out the traffic from the advertising systems.

By summer 2017, Google and WhiteOps approached industry partners to address the botnet.  Industry leaders were leery that the Botnet’s size and power to defraud advertisers would begin eroding confidence, stability, and trust in the entire ad ecosystem.

The FBI organized a meeting of digital advertising and cybersecurity experts in August 2017 to build out a robust response to a massive ad fraud scheme which presented an existential risk to the stability of the global digital advertising industry.

The meeting would set in motion a criminal investigation into confronting the “largest and most sophisticated digital ad fraud operation experts have ever encountered.”

By October 2018, the FBI, working alongside and briefing its private sector partners, privately informed the group that it was ready to take down 3ve.

On Oct. 22, the number of bids for ads submitted to ad systems from sites associated with 3ve went from 375,000 at 12 am to 0 by 6 pm the same day. The FBI killed the 3ve operation in 18 hours.

 

 

Can You Avoid Getting Scammed by Ad Fraud?

According to the World Federation of Advertisers, ad fraud is currently only superseded by the illegal drug trade in annual revenue.

In 2018 alone, an estimated USD 19 billion stolen from advertisers and publishers by ad fraud — a staggering figure which mostly contributes to reducing advertiser confidence in the industry.

Is there a way to avoid being defrauded by fake inventory? We asked our in-house media buying agency, MediaTraderz, whether it is even possible to avoid purchasing fake inventory.

“It is always challenging to be 100% certain that the traffic you are interested in purchasing is indeed legitimate and not fraudulent. In our experience, our first step is to usually look for abnormal behavioral originating from the publisher in order to understand the source of the inventory,” said Gadi Elias, Programmatic Team Leader at MediaTraderz.

“When we see unusually low prices for what is usually premium inventory, we tend to view that opportunity with a sense of skepticism and primarily avoid it. Also when we see abnormal volumes of inventory for usually low traffic domains or apps we often use several of the industry’s best fraudulent authentications tools (WhiteOps, ProtectedMedia, and DoubleVerify) as solutions for better understanding what we are seeing on the exchange,” said Elias.

 

 

Brian Blondy is the Marketing Manager at Total Media.  

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

 

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01 Dec

Google Ads or Display & Video 360 – Which is a Better Buying Platform for You?

Google Ads or Display & Video 360?

That is the question.

Google offers marketers two excellent platforms for buying programmatic inventory, Google Ads (via the Google Display Network) and Display & Video 360 (via the Google Marketing Platform).

Despite both having equally effective programmatic capabilities for marketers looking to buy digital advertising, the two platforms are entirely different from each other based on the available features and capabilities each uniquely offers digital marketers.

To bring clarity to the uniqueness of both platforms, we will be analyzing the precise differences between Google Ads and Display & Video 360 and then identifying which buying platform, or whether both used in parallel, would perhaps be the most correct strategy for your company’s current programmatic media buying activities and goals.

 

Introduction

Google Ads (Google AdWords)

Google’s most used advertising service for marketers for search & display ads on Google and its advertising network. The Google Ads program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only charges when users click (CPC model) the ads.

  • Google owns the world’s largest online display advertising network. (comScore).
  • Google display campaigns reach 80% of global internet users. (Google Benchmarks and Insights).
  • Consumers exposed to display ads are, on average, 155% more likely to search for brand-and segment-specific terms. (Specific Media).
  • Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. (Google Economic Impact Report)
  • 72% of AdWords marketers plan to increase their PPC budgets (Search Engine Watch).This is a strong indication that those businesses were generating positive ROI, because if they were not, then they wouldn’t increase their budgets.

 

Display & Video 360 (DoubleClick Bid Manager)

  • Google’s demand-side platform (DSP) that offers agencies, trading desks, and advertisers access to the world’s most exclusive collection of display, video, native and mobile inventory available in real-time.
  • Display & Video 360 is the evolution and consolidation of DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, Studio, and Audience Center. It offers a single tool for planning campaigns, designing and managing creatives, organizing and applying audience data, finding and buying inventory, and measuring and optimizing campaigns.
  • Display & Video 360 also offers keyword targeting similar to Google Ads but instead of targeting specific search keywords, Display & Video 360 is about contextual keywords.

 

Key Features Comparing Google Ads to Display & Video 360

Creative Options

Google Ads

  • Text, Image, HTML5 (only available for accounts with more than $1,000 total lifetime spend and requires sending an application to Google), Dynamic Creatives and Video Ads.
  • Build and manage creatives in “Ads & Extensions.”

 

Display & Video 360

  • Image, Rich Media (with Campaign Manager), HTML5, Native, Video Ads and Dynamic Creatives (only available with Campaign Manager and a Google Merchant Center account linked to a Google Ads account).
  • Display & Video 360 features a format gallery, an area offering descriptions about each format alongside with example ads for reference.
  • Build and manage creatives with Ad Canvas, Display & Video 360’s visual editor to build and edit creatives in real time.
  • Use data-driven creatives to personalize your creative’s look and feel for different customer segments: Panorama, Cue Cards, Blank Slate.

 

Third Party Data

Google Ads

Google Ads is limited to buying only on the Google Display Network (GDN).

  • Location and language targeting
  • Keyword targeting
  • Device targeting
  • Remarketing

 

Display & Video 360

  • The ability to find the users who could be the ones most interested in your solutions and most likely to convert or purchase.
  • Display & Video 360 provides marketers access to 35 third-party data providers*, which allows you to find users that are similar to your current website visitors, i.e., the types of people who are currently searching for the products/solutions that you offer, and specific demographics or affinity segments.
  • In addition to third-party providers, marketers will also benefit from third-party verification services, which is commonly called third-party data.

 

Feel free to sign up for Display & Video 360 below or contact us if you have any questions.

Device Targeting / Reach

Google Ads GDN

  • Google Ads is limited to buying only on the Google Display Network (GDN).
  • Location and language targeting.
  • Keyword targeting.
  • Device targeting.
  • Remarketing users who have previously visited your website. 

 

Display & Video 360

  • Integrated with 90 Ad Exchanges and includes approx. 1 billion websites. Advertise across all screens -Desktop, Smartphones, Tablets, Connected TVs (Tablet, Smart TV).
  • Advanced Targeting capabilities –Locate and target your current and desired customers based on specific demographics, interests and their purchase intent by using Google’s data. Audience frequency caps for excluding users based on the number of impressions they have been served (across media, channels, and identity spaces).
  • Data Management Platforms (DMP) integration by combining first and third-party data to enable buyers to seek out audiences who have either visited or not visited your website.
  • Audience profile analysis which allows marketers to understand the composition of your selected audience (either first-party or combined audiences) based on its overlap with all other audiences in Display & Video 360 (e.g., Google data, first and third-party segments, combined audiences, and other data sets you have access to).
  • Use your cookies and pixels to reach and monitor your target users across the Google Marketing Platform (only with linked accounts with products in the Google Marketing Platform).
  • Campaign activity features the option to create an audience based on the number of clicks, conversions, and impressions (which are based on first-party remarketing lists or lead to conversions). Once established, you can target the new audience list in multiple line items, both current and future.

 

 

Private Marketplaces (PMPs) & Programmatic Guaranteed (PG)

 

Private Marketplaces (PMP)

An invitation-only RTB auction where one publisher or a group of select publishers invite specific buyers to bid on inventory. The buyer/advertiser knows precisely which sites and ad placements their advertisements will appear on.

 

Programmatic Direct

Method for advertisers to automate direct ad buys for premium campaigns.

Programmatic direct incorporates both programmatic guaranteed deals and preferred non-guaranteed deals. Programmatic direct differs from real-time bidding in that it is a guaranteed-buy rather than an auction like RTB.

Publishers and advertisers are adopting programmatic direct because it allows for premium purchases to be conducted programmatically rather than through the traditional method of direct ad buys.

 

Google Ads

  • Limited to real-time bidding (RTB), buying ads through computer-run, real-time auctions.
  • Google Ads buyers do not have access to private auctions and direct buying opportunities.

 

Display & Video 360

  • Distinguishes itself from Google Ads by giving marketers the ability to target premium inventory available from high trafficked websites across the world via direct deals with publishers and PMPs and programmatic guaranteed buying opportunities.
  • Premium inventory is made available to every partner using Display & Video 360.
  • Buyers can also purchase a set amount of impressions to a particular website’s inventory through Display & Video 360.

 

Bidding Strategies

Google Ads

  • Automated Bidding based on marketing goals.
  • Manual Bidding for specific keywords & ad groups.
  • Bid Adjustments – Gives the user the ability to increase or decrease bids based on a set percentage.

 

Display & Video 360

Fixed Bid – Flat CPM, no automation used

  • How it Works: Use “Fixed Bidding” to have Bid Manager place the same bid on every impression inputted by the user, regardless of the impression value.

Minimize CPC/Minimize CPA – While spending budget in full, minimize action cost based on set goal

  • How it Works: Use “While spending full budget, Minimize CPC/Minimize CPA” to have Bid Manager automatically change your line item’s bid to get the best CPC or CPA performance possible, given the amount you have to spend to exhaust your budget

Meet or Beat a Goal of CPC/CPA –  Priorities Performance over Spend

  • How it Works: Use “Meet or beat goal of CPC/CPA” to have Bid Manager automatically change your line items bid to meet or beat a specific performance goal. If Bid Manager can’t both hit your performance goal and spend all of your line items budget, Bid Manager won’t spend all of your line items budget. If your line items goal is overly aggressive, your line item may not be able to spend its entire budget.

 

Display & Video 360

Viewability – Maximize the number of viewable impressions

  • How it Works: Use “Optimize for viewable CPM bid” to have Bid Manager automatically change your line item’s bid based on the probability that each available impression will be viewable.
  • For example, if you set a viewable CPM goal of $2 and an impression is 40% likely to be viewable based on Active View’s prediction model, Bid Manager’s automated bidding will bid $0.80 CPM (which is 40% of $2).

For mobile app install line item:

  • By default, it’s set to automated bidding to minimize cost per action (CPA). Because the action in this case is typically an app install, the default bid strategy is designed to minimize the cost per install (CPI).

Video Exchanges

Both Google Ads and Display & Video 360 allow marketers to purchase video ads on YouTube.

Specifically, the core difference between the two platforms is Google Ads is connected to the AdX exchange as well as any website serving video through the GDN whereas Display & Video 360’s power lies in its ability access to high-traffiked, premium websites from over 35 video exchanges.

Premium video inventory – Buy brand-safe video inventory for YouTube and TV programmatically through Google Partner Select, Display & Video 360’s premium video marketplace.

It is important to mention that Display & Video 360’s immense strength for video is a massive reason for adding Display & Video 360.  Since Google Ads is limited to the YouTube network and a smaller pool of websites offering video, Display & Video 360’s ability to offer 35 additional exchanges provides a considerable advantage for a marketer looking to launch video campaigns and would like to diversify and expand out the campaigns as far and wide as possible.

 

Feel free to sign up for Display & Video 360 below or contact us if you have any questions.

Reporting and Optimization

Both Google Ads and Display & Video 360 offer:

  • Instant Reporting – Allows you to see data immediately, instead of waiting for a report to run and then downloading the file for offline viewing. Instant Reporting is excellent for quick performance checks, ad-hoc reports, and routine analysis of standard dimensions and metrics. Instant reports can be single-use or saved for later, and also made into visualizations like bar and pie charts.
  • Funnel Analytics Measurement – Deep dive into all of your real-time analytics data to investigate whether your campaigns are reaching the right audiences and converting into leads.
  • Precise Campaign Management – Develop and manage your campaigns using Google’s advanced algorithms to adjust and optimize your bids, budgets and optimization strategies to reach your specific campaign goals.
  • Display & Video 360 allows marketers to view the number of impressions, ad clicks and specific website conversions that originated from the ad campaign.

 

Google Ads

Google Ads offers marketers reports which highlight post-click performance and essential metrics about the users.

Google Ads Reports Cover: Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycle:

  • User acquisition paths.
  • User behavior on site.
  • Conversion patterns.

Google Ads reports show essential metrics from both Google Ads (Clicks) and Google Analytics (Bounce Rate).

 

Display & Video 360

  • Display & Video 360’s reporting system helps you to analyze performance across Display & Video 360 and take action based on those results, including instant reporting that allows you to quickly access data within Display & Video 360 without waiting for reports to export.
  • Full reporting of more than 66 dimensions and 145 metrics for viewing the essential metrics of a campaign.
  • Manual adjustments – Going through the ads one by one and adjusting the bid.

 

Should you add DoubleClick Bid Manager?

Display & Video 360 will expand and benefit your current abilities to reach your intended audiences. You may be asking, “Why to switch things up when Google Ads is working well?”. We’re confident that if you’re asking this question, then your Google Ads campaigns are probably experiencing positive ROI at a low cost. We want to congratulate you, well done.

However, the central thesis of this eBook isn’t to try to persuade your company to ditch your Google Ads account in favor of a shiny, new Display & Video 360 account.

Instead, as a Google Certified Marketing Partner (GCMP), we would be remiss to ignore the massive benefits Google Ads yields and the success it is potentially already bringing to your company from running ads on the GDN.

We recommend that you should add Display & Video 360 and keep your Google Ads account.

The fact that you are opening a discussion about Display & Video 360 within your marketing plans, reflects the advanced nature of where your company’s digital marketing progress is in general. More specifically, if you’re looking to conquer the next digital frontier with your campaigns, Display & Video 360 is indeed the next building block after Google Ads for digital marketers aiming to take on online video advertising and higher budgets for display advertising on premium websites.

Google Ads is great for video campaigns for reaching audiences in YouTube. Though if you’re serious about running video ad campaigns, Google Display & Video 360 is immensely more suited for your goals since you can reach YouTube in addition to 96 ad exchanges which support video ad formats.

Our perspective is that advertisers should segment Display & Video 360 and Google Ads to each run specific campaigns in parallel to challenge each other and test each platform’s ability to achieve positive ROI. We believe that it is a positive approach to reach new audiences and earn better results. If your company is beginning to feel as though it needs to diversify itself into new exchanges, we can assist you in the decision to start using Display & Video 360 and combine it with Google Ads.

At Total Media, we have an abundance of experience working with premium advertisers seeking to maximize their ROI through Google Ads and Display & Video 360. If you would like to begin using Display & Video 360 and are not sure how to start or how to best use Display & Video 360, we can help you with everything along the way.

 

Feel free to sign up for Display & Video 360 below or contact us if you have any questions.

 

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

 

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29 Aug

EBDA is now available as a part of Google Ad Manager 360!

Exchange Bidding Dynamic Allocation (EBDA) feature within Google Ad Manager (GAM) where exchanges and SSPs can bid on a publishers’ inventory, in addition to inventory sourced from the Google Ad Manager’s Ad Exchange (DoubleClick AdX), all within a unified auction inside the platform.

Introduced as a response to Header Bidding, EBDA gives new control to publishers to approve and onboard partners within GAM to access their inventory programmatically. The result is a unified auction on a much evener playing field, with the publisher in the driving seat. The feature is geared towards promoting unified competition for every impression, increasing yield and earned revenue for publisher inventory while reducing a publisher’s workload.

If you would like more information about EBDA or want to hear from us about how Google Ad Manager can benefit your website by increasing your revenue, you can contact us here.

Using EBDA the entire flow for the publisher takes place within Google’s infrastructure, with Google handling the auction, reporting, billing and payments. This integrated approach will be a huge financial and operational benefit to publishers since they will not need to wait for payments from each of their demand partners every month. Whereas in the past a publisher would need to wait or even chase for their monthly earnings, Google will now deliver payment to publishers of all of the revenue earned.

Additionally, EBDA differs from Header Bidding in that it allows for a direct connection to exchanges through GAM rather than through linkage in a header bidding code on the publisher’s website. This difference alone gives publishers an opportunity to benefit from EBDA by significantly reducing latency caused by calling multiple Demand Sources in the head of the page and complexity within the publisher’s AdServer.

EBDA is important because it is the next stage of the industry transforming to fully programmatic. Whereas previously publishers were working with tag-based networks which would compete for an imperfect price against AdX which evolved into Header Bidding, EBDA enables publishers unmatched integration in one platform for bidding in real-time programmatically.

 

EBDA IS BUILT FOR PUBLISHERS:

  • EBDA is exclusively available within Google Ad Manager 360, the world’s premier ad serving platform for publishers.
  • Benefit from increased global competition and demand for your inventory.
  • Independently approve and onboard your demand partners directly into EBDA.
  • Reduced load latency and complexity for the partner tags in the page </head>.
  • Reduced complexity in your Ad Server.
  • Simplified auctions, reporting and billing for publishers.
  • Single timely monthly payment for all of your revenue earned.

 

OUR OFFER TO YOU:

If you would like to begin using Google Ad Manager with EBDA to earn more revenue from every impression, we are ready to partner with you to reach your goals.  For over ten years, our unmatched publisher solutions maximize revenue through advanced proprietary optimization technologies, analysis management tools and services.  We have extensive experience working with publishers to reach optimal revenue results from primary and other indirect demand sources. We are an official certified reseller and publishing partner of Google and we will provide you with access to Google Ad Manager 360 and EBDA.

  • Expert EBDA management of your inventory through elite optimization and yield management strategies.
  • Complete unification of all of your inventory inside Google Ad Manager 360.
  • More demand than you’re currently working with – OpenX, Index Exchange, Rubicon, Smaato, Sovern, and Pubmatic and more to come.
  • Expert monetization team and resources to support you every step of the way.

 

If you would like more information about EBDA or want to hear from us about how Google Ad Manager can benefit your website by increasing your revenue, you can contact us 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

 

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14 Aug

Advertisers Can Now Exclusively Buy from ads.txt Supported Websites

Google announced the introduction of inventory controls in its Google Marketing Platform, specifically within Display and Video 360 (formerly DoubleClick Bid Manager) allowing advertisers to selectively choose to buy from websites which exclusively support ads.txt authorized inventory and exclude themselves from buying inventory from sites not using the ads.txt file.

The recently released Display and Video 360 (formerly called DoubleClick Bid Manager), a part of the Google Marketing Platform, allows advertisers to execute ad campaigns end-to-end in one place, creating efficiency in how teams work and helping teams do more together.  For more on Display & Video 360, click here.

Ads.txt allows publishers place on their website server a .txt file which explicitly lists which companies they sell their inventory through.  The file lists partners by name, but also includes the publisher’s account ID.  This is the same ID buyers see in a bid request, which they can use as a key for campaign targeting.  Buyers use a web crawler to download all the ads.txt files and the information contained within on a regular basis and use it to target their campaigns.   This means buyers know that if they bid on request that comes from an authorized ID, it’s coming from a source the publisher trusts or has control over.

 

Photo credit: Google

 

Originally launched in Q4 2017, Ads.txt has proved to be highly adopted and successful.  According to a blog post written by Tobias Maurer, Google senior product manager, ads.txt is making a big impact on the industry.

Nearly 600,000 publishers have adopted ads.txt since October 2017, specifically, 430,000 domains have added ads.txt files to their website since February 2018.

“We’re proud to say that nearly 90 percent of our publisher partners have adopted ads.txt. What’s more, over 80 percent of the available inventory across exchanges accessed by Display & Video 360 is now authorized. Finally, as more websites continue to adopt the standard, we plan to make the ads.txt-only inventory control the default setting for Display & Video 360 by the end of 2018. said Maurer.”

 

For more information about Ads.txt:

What is Ads.txt and Why is it a Hot Topic Right Now? Read here.

A Conversation about Ads.txt with Mr. Sherzod Rizaev of MinuteMedia (Full) – Read here

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

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Mar

6 Ways to Increase your Mobile Game Monetization

With mobile game revenue at an all-time high in 2017, game developers are hurrying to find the perfect balance between user experience and ROI. It takes a lot of money, time, and effort to get the ball rolling and, obviously, the end goal is to make money – not only to cover costs but to make a profit as well. Yes, in-app purchases are a great way to stimulate a revenue stream but with only 5% of app users willing to spend money on in-app features, there is a roof. You want to find that sweet spot between game design and monetization so that your users will return and you can keep the lights on.

 

I love pop-up ads…. said no user ever.

You’ve developed a game you know users will love and you would hate to see your hard work go to waste because of intrusive ads. One misplaced ad during an epic battle moment or a prize reveal could cost you a user and, at the rate gaming apps are being downloaded for iOS and Android, this could mean even thousands more. Avoid annoying your users by becoming familiar with less-intrusive ad formats and designing your game accordingly, so that you won’t be that game.

 

Love the player and the game.

About as close to sweet spot as it gets, rewarded video is a win-win situation for both you and your users, and, not to mention, for advertisers (win-win-win?). Reach the 95% of non-paying users by offering them in-app currency for watching video ads. This way, your user gets “free” currency while you and your advertisers make real money. You can play around with the placement: pre-gameplay, mid-gameplay, or post-gameplay. Just make sure that your gamer isn’t in the middle of finally finding out what’s over the wall. Who said that UX and ROI need to come at the expense of one another?

 

You play the field while they play the game.

User experience doesn’t stop at ad placement and timing. Contextual targeting is critical for maximizing your ad earning. You can target different users by considering keywords, time, and specific messages – basically finding a way to connect with them through user experience. By working with multiple ad networks, you can ensure suitable ads for all your users and make things less “spammy”. Different ad networks will offer diverse eCPMs – the more suitable the ad request for your users, the higher the eCPM and the more money you can make.

 

If you can’t beat them, join them.

Here’s a thought – designing your game with the ads in mind. This is a great way to ensure natural integration of advertisements and smooth user experience. By leveraging art and animations into the game itself, you can tie ads into the storyline of the game – more of an inception, if you will. Ad earnings will increase with better visibility and user engagement.

 

If you got it, flaunt it.

If you haven’t designed it yet, make sure you consider a premium model of your game. A free version attracts more users and is more effective for long-term user acquisition than paid games. However, by leveraging in-app purchases for temporary upgrades, your loyal users may eventually want a premium version of the game and will be willing to pay to have certain permanent features. If not, they will still stick around for the free version.

 

Embrace the data.

Analytics and data are helpful for game developers to better understand their users. You can see metrics such as what kind of users the game is attracting, how long they play, and what features they like most. This is great for tweaks, adjustments, and overall user satisfaction. Using data and analytics to funnel your users’ willingness to pay is a clever way to increase ad revenue. For example, if native or video ads are causing users to leave the app, consider analyzing user data and showing ads once players reach a particular level or after a certain amount of time spent playing. More likely than not, these users like the game by this point and won’t be scared off by ads.

 

Talia Chudacoff is a Senior Account Manager at Total Media.  You can contact Talia by email at talia(at)mediatraderz(dot)com or on LinkedIn

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15 Feb

Here’s What You Need to Know About the New Ad Blocker in Google Chrome

 

Google has officially enabled its new built-in ad blocker in Chrome today (February 15, 2018) which will automatically remove unacceptable ads and popups from websites across the web. The ad blocking tool empowers the browser to exclude specific types of ads, which as a result will motivate website owners to stop using them.

Using standards defined by the Coalition for Better Ads group (Google is a sitting member), Google will be targeting the following ads types on a site-by-site basis with the new tool:

 Desktop

  • Pop-up Ads
  • Presititial ads with countdown
  • Auto-play video ads with sound (Outstream)
  • Large sticky ads

Mobile

  • Pop-up Ads
  • Presititial ads with countdown
  • Auto-play video ads with sound (Outstream)
  • Poststitial Ads with countdown
  • Density >30%
  • Flashing animated ads
  • Large sticky ads
  • Full-screen scroll over ads

 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google calls the pre-installed and enabled plugin as an “ad filter,” rather than an ad blocker, for preventing non-compliant advertisements from loading during a user website experience.

 

Google has adopted a three-step process for evaluating websites. First, informing the sites of the non-compliancy, and then giving an opportunity to the websites to correct the instances prior to eventually enforcing an ad block.

Google’s evaluation is based on the Better Ads standards and then scoring the website based on a pass, warning or fail rating system.  Google has given website owners the ability to access the evaluations via an API, in addition to allowing for sites to be re-reviewed after rectifying flagged ads after a review.  If a website has been rated as having violations and the owner does not respond or act upon Google’s recommendations for addressing the violations, then Chrome will begin blocking ads from the website after 30 days.

 

To assist publishers for preparing for the introduction of the plugin, Google has released a self-service tool called “Ad Experience Reports,” which notifies publishers of the current instances of non-compliant advertisements on their website alongside solutions for removing the known issues.

In a post published on Google’s official blog, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior VP for Ads & Commerce at Google, said that the reason for introducing measures to combat ad blocking was meant to assist and ensure publishers continue earning revenue in Chrome despite the prevalence of widespread adoption of 3rd party blocking software.

“We believe these changes will ensure all content creators, big and small, can continue to have a sustainable way to fund their work with online advertising.”

The ad blocker is placed in Chrome’s address bar on desktop and on through a notification on mobile near the bottom of the page that informs the user that ads have been blocked. Users of both desktop and mobile versions of Chrome will have the option to allow ads to be shown on site’s where ads have been blocked.

 

Based on the growing popularity of ad blocking plugins and the staggering impact they have caused to publisher revenue over the past few years, it’s logical that Chrome, the internet’s most used browser, would have to eventually take bold steps to address the growing ad blocking issue in Chrome.

Google is offering assurances that the Chrome tool will not be limited to only blocking ads from non-Google demand sources, meaning that the extension will also block non-compliant ads originating from Google’s programmatic sources.

Despite Google’s assertion of neutrality, it still remains to be seen whether the actions of the Chrome tool will adversely affect publishers’ revenue, their ability to monetize as they deem fit, as well as the reality that the tool may have the absolute power to weaken Google’s programmatic competition by blocking ads in a widespread manner inside all versions of Chrome.

 

 

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

 

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13 Feb

The Best SSP for Publishers

February is an excellent time to begin asking whether the SSPs connected to your ad units have the potential to earn you the maximum yield for every impression you serve. Collectively we can point to dozens of name brand SSPs that provide sufficient monetization and fill rates for publishers.

Our experience working with publishers worldwide tells us that Q4 traditionally features larger budgets and more activity in comparison to Q1, a  typically calmer quarter yielding less revenue and advertiser campaigns. Q2 is approaching and with it comes new monetization opportunities.

The use of the word working relates less to how much revenue you earned from your ad units in Q1 but instead serves as a means for evaluating the fill rates and eCPM performance of each of your ad units. This concept also relates to your critical evaluation of the quality of ads, response rates and service provided by the platform(s).

But let’s talk about what’s really important which SSP will perform the best for you and make you the most revenue for every impression! if your website has more than 5M monthly visitors and you’re not earning significant income, you should be ready to make the necessary changes

We have spent the past year researching the best programmatic supply source providers (SSPs), analyzing countless ads arriving from various sources, and interviewing our clients regarding their revenue performance.

One thing remained clear throughout: DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) is the best SSP for achieving superior monetization results for your website in 2018.

AdX is the World’s Best SSP for Publishers in 2018

 

 

This year we made DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) our top choice for SSP. Owned and operated by Google, AdX outperforms the competition by connecting publishers into the world’s largest exchange of global inventory.  AdX is Google’s exclusive programmatic platform featuring Real-Time Bidding (RTB) technology for premium websites to be paired with premium advertisers.

AdX pairs buyers and sellers across the industry and works with premium publishers and advertisers in the world’s largest real-time programmatic RTB bidding exchange. The AdX marketplace is connected to ad networks, agencies, and third-party demand-side platforms and powered by advertiser demand, conducted via live auction for the ad units.

If you have more than 5M visitors visiting your website per month, then you should strongly consider switching over to AdX. Publishers featuring ad units monetized by AdX expose themselves to the world’s most premium advertisers who are eager to spend significant advertising budgets on widely trafficked sites. Just this difference alone between membership in AdX equates to a substantial financial gain for the publisher who qualifies and begins using AdX.

AdX comes with AdWords buyers baked in which brings together the best of both of these worlds into one package. As a result, your website’s premium demand is amplified by the continued competitive presence of AdWords demand in the connected ad units.

Also, AdX reaches its full potential when it is enabled to compete with other networks via Google’s ad serving platform – DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP). By utilizing DFP (either Small Business or Premium), publishers can rotate between ad networks for their ad units, also, to directly selling ad space to advertisers, while always striving for 100% fill rates through the real-time competition since added competition for ad units drives the CPMs higher.

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

5 Ways to Boost Your Website Monetization

8 Ways to Avoid Termination of Your DoubleClick AdX Account

With a multitude of demand sources in competition for more of your website’s ad units, more bidders are involved for more ad units and the stridently pushing higher the price of the winning bids for your ad units. In the end, there’s no comparison; publishers make significantly more money by having AdX paired with DFP on their website.

Ultimately, if you’re a publisher who is aiming to maximize your advertising revenue and your website has over 5M visitors per month, then graduating to AdX should be your goal.

  • Sell your ad space to the highest-paying buyers in real-time
  • Increase revenues from premium and remnant inventory
  • Detailed reports on all of your inventory
  • Industry leading response times
  • Realize higher margins
  • Unmatched brand safety for publishers (and advertisers)

 

If you would like to join AdX and potentially make more money from your traffic, we can assist your website to maximize its potential with DoubleClick AdX.  Contact us today to get started!

 

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

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24 Jan

A Conversation about Ads.txt with Mr. Sherzod Rizaev of MinuteMedia (Short)

A Conversation about Ads.txt with Sherzod Rizaev, Global Head of Commercial Operations at Minute Media

 

It brings us great pleasure to present a recent interview we conducted with Sherzod Rizaev, Global Head of Commerical Operations at Minute Media.  Total Media has worked as programmatic partners with Mr Rizaev and Minute Media since 2015.  Minute Media’s open platform delivers tech-driven content, advertising, and product experiences for global communities, publishers and brands. Its 5 international newsrooms and 4 video studios publish 1000 pieces of original content in 11 languages each day across its three brands (90min, 12UP and DBLTAP) as well to premium publishers and platform partners including Sports Illustrated, Univision, Oath, Time Inc, ProSieben, and EI.

We recently asked Mr Rizaev about his thoughts and experiences with Ads.txt and how Minute Media has adjusted and responded thus far to Ads.txt.

 

Why did you decide to add Ads.txt to your website?

We were convinced to add Ads.txt to our website for the following three reasons:

  • Following Google’s leadership of the initiative
  • Being able to discover who is monetising our inventory and control
  • Being able to define which other opportunities and partners are out there for us to approach directly

Have you experienced any issues implementing and setting-up Ads.txt? What has been the impact Ads.txt has had on your business thus far?

No, we have not experienced any issues with Ads.txt because we have an excellent development team that have prepared themselves and have covered the set-up and management of the Ads.txt file comprehensively.

 

Have you been approached by 3rd parties who have said that they have a previous relationship with your website yet you do not recognise who they are?

Every single day. Every day we receive a few emails from vendors that are saying, “here is our Ads.txt ID, please add it to your Ads.txt file, and you will generate $1M overnight.”  We see that particular vendors will send the same email to us every day until we either respond or make a decision about them.  In the meantime, we’re not doing anything with these emails.

 

Has the presence of Ads.txt changed your relationship with your approved partners?

One of the primary reasons we added Ads.txt was to figure out who we are working with, where is our inventory being exchanged and to identify the vendors that I recognise. Ads.txt allows me to work with my approved vendors directly, to work just with them, rather than these unknown 3rd party vendors who are reaching out to us every day.

For example let’s say that network “XYZ” has given us access to six different networks, each of their unique reseller IDs through the relationship. Now, I know that they are taking the impression and applying some tag or programmatic floor to monetise the inventory for us.  We’re already working with those partners and we have already seen the inventory on the exchanges.

Unless we have the open channels to generate revenue right now and we have agreed on the rates with them, and we have been working with them either on a pass by basis or a header or however we have previously worked with them, we won’t add them to our Ads.txt file.

 

What are your expectations/predictions for Ads.txt going forward?

It’s still yet to be seen, but I am optimistic about Ads.txt for 2018. Looking at the industry itself, the types of technologies that we want to employ, the likes of Ads.txt, and partners like Google, we believe that unique technologies that will benefit our website will arrive in the coming year.

My prediction is that Ads.txt is going to clear out the 3rd party sellers that have been gaming the system up until now. Ads.txt will force specific companies in the industry to go bust. The business sitting in the middle making money on the buying, selling and arbitrage, they will be the ones that will suffer. Though, it’s only a matter of time before third-parties find a way to trade again in different ways because the impressions are often sold many times over in exchanges.

 

Interview conducted by Brian Blondy, December 2017.

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

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11 Jan

A Conversation about Ads.txt with Mr Sherzod Rizaev of MinuteMedia (Full)

A Conversation about Ads.txt with Sherzod Rizaev, Global Head of Commercial Operations at Minute Media

 

It brings us great pleasure to present a recent interview we conducted with Sherzod Rizaev, Global Head of Commerical Operations at Minute Media.  Total Media has worked as programmatic partners with Mr Rizaev and Minute Media since 2015.  Minute Media’s open platform delivers tech-driven content, advertising, and product experiences for global communities, publishers and brands. Its 5 international newsrooms and 4 video studios publish 1000 pieces of original content in 11 languages each day across its three brands (90min, 12UP and DBLTAP) as well to premium publishers and platform partners including Sports Illustrated, Univision, Oath, Time Inc, ProSieben, and EI.

We recently asked Mr Rizaev about his thoughts and experiences with Ads.txt and how Minute Media has adjusted and responded thus far to Ads.txt.

Why did you decide to add Ads.txt to your website?

First, the choice to add Ads.txt follows Google’s leadership and industry focus on the subject. In addition to working with Google, we also put our inventory on other multiple platforms which follow Google’s lead in the industry. Primarily, an initiative supported by Google or the IAB will always be strongly considered and most likely implemented by our team since Google is one of our website’s primary revenue generators.

Second, Ads.txt gives us a better idea of who is monetising our inventory and on which platforms. For example, if I’m working with a network and they are giving me six different network IDs files, I know for sure now how they are monetising my inventory. Through Ads.txt, I see how much unique demand these providers possess. Supporting the Ads.txt initiative is proving to be crucial for us for figuring out how our impressions are being mapped out onto the global exchanges.

Third, there are some players on our .txt file that I’ve never heard of, specifically some of the exchanges, especially on the video front. We see this as an opportunity to check all of our vendors and to leave no stone unturned at this stage since video is a primary revenue stream of ours.

These three reasons combined: Google’s leadership of the initiative, finding out who is monetising our inventory, and which other opportunities and partners are out there for us to approach directly, convinced us to implement Ads.txt onto our website.

 

Have you experienced any issues implementing and setting-up Ads.txt? What has been the impact Ads.txt has had on your business?

No, we have not experienced any issues with Ads.txt because we have an excellent development team that have prepared themselves and have covered the set-up and management of the Ads.txt file comprehensively.

Have you been approached by 3rd parties who have said that they have a previous relationship with your website yet you do not recognise who they are?

Every single day. Every day we receive a few emails from vendors that are saying, “here is our Ads.txt ID, please add it to your Ads.txt file, and you will generate $1M overnight.” We see that particular vendors will send the same email to us every day until we either respond or make a decision about them. In the meantime, we’re not doing anything with these emails.

As I said earlier, one of the primary reasons we added Ads.txt was to figure out who we are working with, where is our inventory being exchanged and to identify the vendors that I recognise. Ads.txt allows me to work with my approved vendors directly, to work just with them, rather than these unknown 3rd party vendors who are reaching out to us every day.

Unless we have the open channels to generate revenue right now and we have agreed on the rates with them, and we have been working with them either on a pass by basis or a header or however we have previously worked with them, we won’t add them to our Ads.txt file.

 

Has the presence of Ads.txt changed your relationship with your approved partners?

The presence of Ads.txt has helped us to clarify who we are working with. For example let’s say that network XYZ has given us access to six different networks, each of their unique reseller IDs through the relationship. Now, I know that they are taking the impression and applying some tag or programmatic floor to monetise the inventory for us. We’re already working with those partners, and we have already seen the inventory on the exchanges.

Now I ask myself, do I need network XYZ? Yes, I believe that we have more control to decide. But that feeling currently leads to the need to conclude whether we want to work with these guys or not because we have more information in which to judge them and their activities.

In a conversation that I recently had with the IAB, a particular question kept popping up in my mind, “How many vendors are too many?” Looking forward to January 1, we are already looking to clean out a lot of the happenings within our ecosystem within our control. We primarily want to analyse our system and find the ones that we wish to have our inventory monetised by.

We have taken the perspective as we are crafting our Ads.txt list to ask ourselves, how many local partners do we need? How many global partners do we need to serve 80-100M unique visitors?

We’re sure that we are going to need a lot of partners to serve our audiences. It might be that we should have partners that are strong in specific local markets versus our global partners that are strong in our top ten markets.

 

What are your expectations/predictions for Ads.txt going forward?

It’s still yet to be seen, but I am optimistic about Ads.txt for 2018. Looking at the industry itself, the types of technologies that we want to employ, the likes of Ads.txt, and partners like Google, we believe that unique technologies that will benefit our website will arrive in the coming year.

As of today, I believe that it is still early to accurately judge the impact Ads.txt has had on our business and revenue. Though we have seen an impact from our third-party publishers that have seen a dip in their income over the last month. For us, we were ready when Ads.txt launched, and we have been fortunate to have not seen a drop in our revenue. It remains to be seen whether this stabilisation of our revenue connects to whether Ads.txt is working or whether there is no connection at all.

My prediction is that Ads.txt is going to clear out the 3rd party sellers that have been gaming the system up until now. Ads.txt will force specific companies in the industry to go bust. The business sitting in the middle making money on the buying, selling and arbitrage, they will be the ones that will suffer. Though, it’s only a matter of time before third-parties find a way to trade again in different ways because the impressions are often sold many times over in exchanges.

I think it is a positive development that the system will be cleaned for the benefit of the publisher as well as the advertiser. If Ads.txt works in clearing out the system more efficiently, I believe that it is going to add quick ad returns since our approved vendors who buy from us are responding directly to us with their creatives. In addition to the absence of the arbitrage of our inventory, I believe that Ads.txt will continue to diminish the chances for us to being misrepresented to the advertiser. In the end, we will deliver much better results for advertisers.

 

Interview conducted by Brian Blondy, December 2017.

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

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14 Dec

Ads.txt Publishers Appear to be Winning Despite Heavy Financial Pounding

Publishers are estimated to be losing in upwards of $1.3B a year as a result of third party sellers fraudulently impersonating publisher inventory on global ad exchanges according to new study published by Google.

Google believes that certain nefarious actors are submitting in upwards of 700M false ad requests per day, which as a result causes publishers to lose significant amounts of revenue every day.  The December 12 report states that publishers are losing up to $3.5M per day based on a $5 video CPM evaluation.

The report was composed in concert with notable publishers such as Business Insider, The New York Times, The Washington Post in addition to AdTech specialists Amobee and Quantcast.

The act of counterfeiting impressions occurs most frequently when a seller switches the URL of a high-quality site with that of a low-quality publisher or when the seller produces fake impressions and then repackages them with the URL of a high-traffic publisher.  In either of the aforementioned scenarios the seller then presents the fake inventory to the world’s ad exchanges and supply-side platforms (SSPs), obviously without the premium publisher’s knowledge, with the intent to fool advertisers into thinking that they are buying premium inventory.

Despite the heavy financial pounding publishers have taken, Google believes that Ads.txt is just the solution in order to fight back against the unchecked fraud that has taken place.  Within the study the authors managed to identify roughly 1000 accounts in more than 24 marketplaces offering counterfeit advertising inventory.  As a result, the accounts were terminated, thus reducing available inventory and raising prices for authorized advertising buys.

Throughout 2017, Google has promoted Ads.txt as the best means for ensuring transparency and increasing brand safety for publishers and advertisers. In short, Ads.txt works by allowing publishers put a file on their server that says exactly which companies they sell their inventory through.  The file lists partners by name, but also includes the publisher’s account ID.  This is the same ID buyers see in a bid request, which they can use as a key for campaign targeting. Buyers use a web crawler to download all the ads.txt files and the information contained within on a regular basis and use it to target their campaigns.   This means buyers know that if they bid on request that comes from an authorized ID, it’s coming from a source the publisher trusts or has control over.

As of early December 2017, nearly 50% of the world’s top 2,000 websites have already added Ads.txt onto their websites.

 

At Total Media, we have already have an abundance of experience working with premium publishers seeking to maximize their ROI with Ads.txt.  If you would like assistance with Ads.txt, we can help you with everything along the way in addition to providing you with the finest consultation. If you would like assistance with Ads.txt you can reach us here or if you would like to join Total Media’s monetization program for premium publishers click here.

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

 

 

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