The IAB and other industry groups recently announced a new tool, ads.txt, to help solve the problem of counterfeit inventory (also known as “domain spoofing”) present in the programmatic supply chain. Counterfeit inventory is ad inventory represented as coming from a publisher or domain from which it does not actually originate. For example, an ad opportunity on badtraffic.com is misrepresented in the bid request as coming from NYT.com. This type of intentional and malicious mislabeling is done to elicit higher bids from advertisers that are inclined to pay a premium for NYT.com, whereas they would typically not pay the same premium for badtraffic.com.
While this counterfeit inventory scheme ultimately results in valid impressions on actual websites served to real people, these activities undermine the digital ecosystem and cause harm to all legitimate market participants. As such, DataXu is actively participating in the IAB efforts to end counterfeit and unauthorized inventory and its initiative to expose these fraudulent practices. DataXu Co-Founder, CTO & EVP of Product Development Dr. Bill Simmons has been deeply involved in the development of the new OpenRTB ads.txt standards announced by the IAB on May 17, 2017. Additionally, DataXu is also an active participant in the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and is a member of the working groups exploring technical solutions to the challenge of unauthorized impressions.
The broad adoption of ads.txt by publishers and buyers will be a great step toward eradicating this type of malicious behavior; however, DataXu has always felt strongly that we can’t afford to wait for industry standards to emerge and gain traction. That’s why DataXu has always taken actions above and beyond the industry standard in order to protect our customers’ investments. We proactively review and regularly shut off suppliers who fail to provide transparent, premium quality inventory, and have been manually reviewing and curating the inventory made available through our platform since day one. In 2015, DataXu introduced the industry’s first Fraud-Free Guarantee, not because we felt we should necessarily be responsible for policing fraud coming from suppliers, but rather because we felt that limiting the risks posed to our customers was the absolute right thing to do. We estimate that the DataXu 97% Fraud-Free Guarantee has saved our customers over $80 million dollars to date.
To support our commitment to quality, our partners should know that DataXu practices a “defense-in-depth” approach with respect to protecting them from fraud and counterfeit inventory. DataXu has been taking the following actions to prevent counterfeit inventory:
- Deploy custom-built technology and a team of dedicated supply chain specialists to remove fraud and unauthorized inventory and traffic from our supply chain
- Work off of white lists of authorized publishers to ensure quality and authenticity of inventory where necessary
- Maintain an active dialog with our publisher partners to ensure that DataXu is buying inventory via their authorized exchanges and preferred deal formats
- Run “domain-spoofing” detection tools to identify and prevent unauthorized impressions
- Prioritize inventory coming directly from the publisher or their designated exchange partners and measure the uniqueness of domains/publishers for each exchange
- Proactively cull inventory across all exchanges, removing inventory that is not able to be authenticated
DataXu puts a primary focus on providing our customers with the highest quality supply chain in the industry, and we continuously expand these efforts to address more channels and buying modes as programmatic advertising evolves. Beyond traditional exchange buying for desktop and mobile display, DataXu delivers premium inventory and brand-safe placements in the following manner:
- DataXu has curated over 2,000 always-on Private Exchange deals, secured directly from the publishers themselves and reviewed for quality and transparency, all of which are available for any DataXu customer to utilize
- Beyond desktop and mobile, we have pushed aggressively into emerging and high-quality channels such as CTV/OTT, where we authenticate all associated inventory and guarantee 100% viewability
- DataXu’s OneView technology allows us to define custom fraud-free audiences and seamlessly engage them across all devices, including on websites, mobile apps and TV content