Ad tech vendors remove Financial Times video inventory
The Financial Times made waves recently by saying it found FT video ad inventory on several exchanges, even though the FT didn’t sell any programmatically. Last week, the publisher went to at least four ad tech providers — Oath, SpotX, FreeWheel and BidSwitch — to demand they stop representing access to FT video ad inventory.
Two separate inventory availability reports from DoubleClick Bid Manager showed large levels of what were purportedly Financial Times video impressions across six platforms over the last 30 days. (The others were Smart AdServer and Adform.) The amount of available FT video impressions on these platforms ranged from 70,000 to 12.6 million impressions, according to the report. These impressions were listed in the DBM reports as “potential impressions,” which means they weren’t necessarily sold.
The FT recently tested how much domain spoofing was occurring on its site while implementing ads.txt — the tool the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab created to help publishers combat ad fraud. The publisher estimated the value of the fraudulent inventory available to be £1 million ($1.3 million) a month. It then played a game of programmatic whack-a-mole, contacting those listed — falsely, according to the FT — as having FT inventory to get that removed.
Although the FT didn’t reveal names of exchanges, Oath, SpotX, FreeWheel and BidSwitch all confirmed to Digiday that the publisher contacted them. Adform was also in the report, showing 70,000 video impressions, and a spokesman said it had identified two unauthorized networks and terminated the accounts. Smart also appeared in the DBM report with 666,000 video impressions for FT.com, though the vendor said it blocked any FT inventory coming into its platform after learning of the news, but that the publisher hadn’t contacted it.
A screen shot of a DBM inventory availability report was posted to Reddit last week. Digiday then viewed a separate DBM report. In the second report, One by AOL had 12.6 million potential video impressions for the FT on its platform over the last 30 days, and Oath-owned BrightRoll had 70,000.
“As soon as we were made aware of the issue [by the FT], we removed the inventory from our platforms,” said an Oath spokesperson.
SpotX had 290,000 FT video impressions running, according to the DBM report. A spokesperson for the video exchange said these impressions were not actually sold, due to blocks the vendors has, and that it removed the availability after being alerted by the publisher.
Smart said it, too, did not actually sell any FT video ads. As to how the inventory showed up there, Gorka Zarauz, Smart’s chief quality officer, said most likely, one of Smart’s partners was to blame.
“We check the inventory and URLs of every partner we work with before they come to the platform,” he said. “They’re always helpful and provide all the details; then, sometimes months later, they’ll suddenly start adding domains that we haven’t approved or widgets that are not within our brand-safety policies and have malware. When we locate them, we drop them as partners.”
Thomas Bremond, FreeWheel European managing director, said for this to be stamped out, the FT’s authorized sellers need to be clearer with the publisher about which vendors they pass on inventory to. Those authorized resellers passed on FT.com inventory to FreeWheel, which is why it has appeared in the list. Since last week, Freewheel has blacklisted all FT inventory. “All this will become more clear once ads.txt is more established,” said Bremond.
BidSwitch, an ad tech vendor that connects 150 supply-side platforms with 200 demand-side platforms, also came up in the report as having 5.7 million FT video ad impressions in the last 30 days. However, the company is an anomaly, given it does not directly control supply, but is connected to 400 billion ad requests a day from the SSPs that use BidSwitch. Therefore, it is the SSPs that use BidSwitch that would have brought in the fraudulent video impressions to its platform. The 5.7 million fraudulent video impressions showed aggregated FT domain data from approximately nine different SSPs that DBM accesses via BidSwitch, according to Scott Neville, gm of BidSwitch.
“They [FT] were in contact, and we have worked with them to centrally block FT-related traffic from any nonapproved SSPs,” said Neville.
Cheat Sheet: At IAB Podcast Upfront, diverse voices take center stage while podcast advertising revenue and audiences boom
Most of the companies that presented at the IAB Podcast Upfront signaled they had or were going to add more diversity to their programming, both in hosts and content.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: What media companies’ latest earnings reports say about the state of the industry
Media companies' Q1 earnings reports signaled a continued return to business as usual — for better or worse, depending on the company's digital business.
‘Brands tend to be selective’: OMG report offers options to media buyers facing upfront inventory crunch
With a tight upfront TV marketplace expected, one agency group is recommending alternatives in video and CTV.
SponsoredHow The Company Store is reimagining customer experiences for pandemic-era growth
Throughout the pandemic, some retail categories have been inherently successful. Home furnishings and décor are among them; with consumers spending so much more time at home, updates and renovations flourished. Criteo data from the first half of 2020 showed sales for items like outdoor furniture sets up 434% year over year, with other home items […]
‘You’re fixing a number, not changing the culture’: Confessions of a media exec on diversity quotas
In the rush to improve diversity rates, businesses are in danger of overlooking more fundamental ways to sustain inclusivity in the workplace, according to our latest Confessions interviewee.
‘Direct revenue driver’: How local broadcaster News 12 is partnering with Google to build a younger audience
Local broadcaster used support and funding from Google News Initiative to build a new tool that can automatically identify and feed video content into new website verticals.