One of the reasons we have always offered ad operations to our publisher partners is because the publishers are so busy with other things. And the rise of programmatic buying and selling has made all of this more complicated and less transparent. As digital ad products get more complicated, they require more and more heavy lifting to make sure ads run as they are supposed to according to your own specs and industry standards. A new report from GeoEdge finds that some publishers’ ad ops teams are spending up to 40% of their time doing QA on creative.
In the old days, QA was only “does this ad really run.” But now, because of all the interest in brand safety,
quality assurance is really about risk management. The QA process entails getting detailed ad specs up front, clearly identifying stakeholders and responsibilities, and effectively setting expectation for how an ad is supposed to work, whom it is meant to reach and actually meeting those expectations in order to insure a good user experience.
According to this report, part of the problem comes from conflicting priorities between the buyer (the agency) and the publisher. For the buyer, ad performance is the highest priority. But for the publisher, continued existence depends on monetization and optimization. Their goals are clearly misaligned.
Publishers ought to focus on their own needs, nor just follow whatever process the agency follows. And not spend so much time pursuing every new platform, to the detriment of QA. What good is it if you are on Snapchat if your ad doesn’t run the way it’s supposed to? Again, from GeoEdge, “the ad integrations that come with new platforms are more complex than publishers are accustomed to, making QA even more laborious.” Video and native ad executions are far more difficult than banner ads used to be. When a complex ad product changes hands among so many different teams, it’s easy for errors to slip through the cracks.
The highlight of this report for us was the experience of Forbes:
… who made a major advertising faux pas in 2016 when it released its 30 Under 30 list. Like most publishers starved for ad dollars, Forbes requested that those looking to view the list disable their ad blockers. Dutiful readers did just that only to open themselves up to malware ready to steal personal data, drain bank accounts and hold passwords hostage. With 56 million monthly unique visitors, this Forbes oversight was no small slip up.
But on our private platform, we can also do the ad operations, and with them, the QA. There is no danger, if you buy our ad formats and run them on our network, that malware can enter our closed system.
Admittedly GeoEdge is selling its automated verification solutions in this report, but the problems it identifies are real ones, and we’ve all been dealing with them in one way or another since advertising became digital.