5 ways display ads tank publisher sites

Ad quality is always a concern for publishers. However, it often becomes a game of “Whac-A-Mole,” as publishers try to combat bad ads. One way to do this is through ad-verification services.

We asked executives at the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Business Insider and Complex Media for some of the big issues they encounter when it comes to ad quality and how they address them. Excerpts:

Bad ads served programmatically
“[Some of the bigger offenders are] out-of-spec ads that detract from the user experience — expandable, uninitiated sound, app store redirects, etc. When these ads run programmatically, this is a game of ‘Whac-A-Mole’ that never truly ends. It has, however, gotten better as we’ve seen bid density and yields increase … and our programmatic partners continue to improve the tools that identify these bad actors.”–Pete Spande, CRO, Business Insider

Off-target creative
“We are fortunate that our advertising partners understand how different our audiences are from audiences they engage elsewhere. This millennial male influencer who is on the cusp of what’s next from a style, music and pop culture perspective needs to be engaged very specifically in order to be successful.

“One thing that people may not realize in the industry is that we are developing 60-70 percent of the mobile, desktop display and video advertising for our clients, too. This helps us ensure the authenticity of the messaging that is as credible as our content. Case in point, our video that released with Common for Miller Coors.” –Rich Antoniello, CEO, Complex Media

Incomplete Vetting
“We take every measure to ensure optimal ad quality and the best user experience. We vet both the brands and campaigns and then deploy a combination of human and technological quality control. We don’t leave it to chance — it’s not one or the other, it’s both.

“In addition to manual exams for any inappropriate content, our ad server – Doubleclick for Publishers – also employs a rigorous battery of tests and safeguards, alerting us to both line items and creative issues when checking for “malvertising.” We’re a premium site and protective of our subscribers’ trust and experience. As such, we go the extra mile to vet the brands and the creative campaigns.”–Trevor Fellows, head of global sales, WSJ

Poor site design
“Improving ad quality starts with an improved product. We launched the new latimes.com last month and, in doing so, deliberately reduced the number of ads built into each page, added white space and gave breathing room for our premium ad positions. We want them to be noticed. We also want them to be relevant. We’ve already seen a dramatic increase in the number of quality advertisers and agencies looking to connect with our broad readership, as well as target niche audiences.”–Emily Smith, svp of digital, L.A. Times

Mobile last
“Mobile is the category we spent the most time thinking about. We launched the new latimes.com with a new responsive advertising unit that enables our clients to deliver a custom-built multilayered message that will optimize uniquely to different screen sizes. We can serve this with a single ad tag and ensure it connects with the right audience regardless of the device they are using.”–Emily Smith, svp of digital, L.A. Times

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