Why Ad Networks Are Breaching Your IO Agreement, and How to Resolve the 6 Common Compliance Issues

opinionThe following is a guest contributed post from Christian Henschel, Co-founder & CEO of Adjust.

Ad network compliance is a major issue in the app publishing industry. While promotion delivery, targeting and timing is paramount for every campaign, ad networks don’t always deliver on what they promise or what was agreed upon with the advertiser. Why does this happen so often? There are often a variety of reasons for this – compliance issues being one of the biggest culprits.

Why breaches of compliance occur

Compliance is inherently tied to the insertion orders (IO) between advertisers and ad networks or agencies, and purchase orders (PO) between the agency or network and publishers (or several networks and aggregators in between). Unfortunately, this means that your tracking and analysis platform cannot lend much technical support in fighting these types of schemes. However, there are several digital advertising security platforms, such as BrandVerity, WhiteOps, and Integral AdScience, that may be able to offer protection and detection for common compliances issues.

Let’s walk through the top 6 ad network compliance issues that publishers encounter, and how to resolve them to maximize your ad spend for growth goals:

1) Control Ad Viewability

Ensure your ad media is visible to consumers according to the rules set in your IO. Leverage special ad tags that can report on the exact display location of your ad media on a page, the percentage of ad media displayed and the amount of time that the ad media was displayed, or even prevent displaying ad media if the placement does not meet your quality expectations.

2) Enforce Your Brand Safety

Another common issue is ensuring that your advertisement is shown next to content that you allowed in the IO. For this, you can use specialized brand safety services that have vast databases of content categorization for websites, which crawl the web for ad media and re-check referrer links for brand safety compliance.

3) Protect from Creative Misuse

This speaks to how you exercise control over the ad media used in the advertising that will introduce consumers to your product. Ensuring that third party ad tags are enforced through a digital advertising security service can help mitigate the problem of a publisher using unauthorized ad media, and deliver insights on viewability and brand safety.

4) Prevent Re-Brokering

It’s critical to enforce policies around exclusivity and direct partnerships in order to get the quality and volume of impressions for your ad media. Re-brokering, or re-selling of your ordered ad impressions, can be prevented and detected by brand safety services as long as their tags are enforced.

5) Get Better Targeting

Geo (country, city, longitude/latitude), device, carrier or audience targeting are all ways of ensuring your advertisement reaches the consumers you are most interested in. However, staying in control of correct targeting is difficult. I suggest a holistic approach that provides price incentives for correct targeting, but still offers minimal compensation for acquired users outside of core targeting. Perhaps you don’t want incentivized traffic, so place in your IO that incentivized installs will be paid out at a CPI of $0.10. If you only want conversions from certain countries – like US, UK, Canada – set your CPI for these territories accordingly, and then separately set a CPI for the other 194 countries at $0.05. Be clear to the network that there is a limited budget for out of scope installs (such as 3-5% of the total budget) and that overages will not be paid. This practice will mitigate any potential out of scope targeting by the network, and serve as a preventative solution. Since you named a price and a budget for out of scope traffic, there really is no question in regards of what to do with them.

6) Clearly Segment Your Incentivized Install Campaigns

Incentivized campaigns are usually strictly separated from the non-incentivized ones. The most important reasons are the generally lower amount of engaged users (less returning and retention, and thus less ROI) and the significantly lower CPI prices that are paid for the resulting installs. Sources still sending incentivized traffic to campaigns that forbid it, or mixing both types of traffic might be hard to spot. It’s important to set up the highest level of granularity possible in sources for your statistics drilldowns. Even then, a good mix of traffic is hard to uncover. In this case, you should be able to rely on your ad network to lend expertise comparing post install metrics between sources and compare this with other apps in the same categories to uncover and eliminate underperforming sources.

How do you find out if you are affected by fraudulent exploitation or breaches of compliance?

Your marketing or user acquisition team will certainly have a sense of the quality of installs coming through. They’ll also know about the biggest compliance issues since consumers tend to communicate brand damage due to malicious content or creative misuse. However, most will not have full fraud detection capabilities.

Should suspicions about an acute fraud case arise, it’s imperative to gather data from your tracking provider and ad network, agency or publisher. In order not to be forced into a reactive role, it’s also worth at least running a trial period with a digital advertising security company for an overview of your vulnerabilities related to CPC/CPM budgets and compliance breaches.

Additionally, to get an idea about your security in regards to technical exploits, your tracking and analytics platform holds all the answers. So, I encourage you to have a more detailed conversation about fraudulent exploits and how to secure your budgets against them with your provider.

All activities combined will give you better control for fewer breaches of compliance, and enable you to optimize your campaigns for growth and scalability.