Mobile Publishers Asked to Verify Display Ad Campaigns

  |  February 26, 2009   |  Comments

Omnicom OMD leans on publishers to serve ads through a third-party ad server such as DoubleClick to ensure more accountability.

Publishers of mobile content were told by Omnicom's OMD to obtain third-party verification for mobile display ad campaigns. Running ads through third-party authentication allows for more consistent reporting between the Web and mobile Web and could clear up discrepancies, potentially saving money for both advertisers and publishers.

For mobile ad networks and publishers, this means all ads will have to run through a server such as DoubleClick DART, DFA (DART for Advertisers), Atlas, or Eyeblaster. Many ad networks already work with DoubleClick and other ad serving platforms.

An OMD spokeswoman confirmed the new edict, calling it a "policy change." An OMD executive was not available Wednesday to provide further details.

There are two ways in which networks and publishers can use a third-party verification system. And agencies such as OMD are apparently not happy with the way the some publishers currently serve mobile ads.

One method for serving ads -- preferred by agencies -- is third-party ad serving, where the delivery of the ad creative itself is done through the ad server, such as DoubleClick. Through the dashboard the agency gets the exact reporting on which creative within the campaign was served. Because of the degree of reporting available, campaigns are able to be optimized, frequency capped, retargeted, and further enhanced, just as if the ad was served on the Web.

A second ad-serving method used by a number of mobile ad networks is referred to as server side included or SSI. The ad delivery handled by the ad network and pinged back to the third-party ad server such as DoubleClick. In this case the agency doesn't receive specific information on what creative ran, just that an ad was served by a publisher.

"We went through the same situation on the agency side for PC-based advertising," said Paran Johar, CMO of Jumptap, a mobile ad network that apparently meets OMD's edict because it uses the preferred third-party verification providers.

"I think this is a great testament to the success of mobile advertising. They [OMD] are throwing down the gauntlet that they are requiring ad networks and publishers to account for publisher data," said Johar, who worked for six years at Tribal DDB, an agency under OMD.

He said the practice of obtaining third-party verification, which Jumptap sees as a priority to its advertisers, clears out discrepancies and will result in a "significant savings to both publisher and advertiser."

Not all ad networks have made third-party ad serving a priority. Third Screen Media, a part of AOL's Platform-A, is still testing the waters. "We have supported campaigns using third-party servers on a case by case basis after thorough testing," said a source in the mobile department.

A benefit to agencies, OMD and others who may follow suit, is the ability to report more consistently between the Web and the mobile Web. "What OMD is doing, is saying if it has to work side-by-side with online, if [mobile] is not implemented with online dashboards, agencies are not getting control. From what are now relatively small campaigns, they won't scale," said Bob Walczak, founder and CEO of Ringleader Digital, also an ad-serving publisher network that also uses OMD's preferred verification providers.

Ringleader Digital integrated with third-party ad serving when it began operations in 2007. Walczak is happy to see agencies pushing publishers in the right direction. It mirrors the Web, which is how he set up Ringleader. "This has been mandated across online for over a decade now, mobile is just coming online," he said.

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Enid Burns

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