(Don't) Trust AND Verify Has Never Been More Crucial

Don't just trust that your DSP, SSP, or anything ad tech works. Verify it. If you can't then don't spend the money

This is an experimental campaign where I am targeting an inclusion list of mobile apps only. I left everything else open (all possible exchanges, all device types) because I wanted to see how well the DSP helped me get the list of apps that I wanted.

Turns out, it got NONE of the apps that I had in my whitelist. And that list was more than 10,000 long so there should have been at least SOME apps. Not only did the DSP not get me any of the apps that I wanted; measurement with a FouAnalytics in-ad tag shows mobile apps were only 5% and of that 44% were the Facebook app loading webpages (also not in-app inventory). 86% went to domains (as you see in the ancestorOrigins data grid to the right, below.

This amount of “error” is consistent with a previous experiment, where I targeted 1 domain but did not specify which exchange to use. In the chart below, you can see 15 sellerIDs in play, and the 1 correct sellerID only accounting for 73.3% of the impressions that I got. That means nearly 27% of the impressions went to something other than the domain I wanted to target. Again, this corroborates the observation that even if you use inclusion lists or whitelists, they may not be enforced well for you. And your mileage may vary depending on which DSP you use for buying.

When I locked it down and specified 1 exchange (in this case AppNexus, you can see there is improvement. 97% of the impressions went to the correct sellerID (I confirmed this with the publisher). That still means 3% of the impressions “leaked” somewhere else. But that is far better than 27% leaking elsewhere.

The point of this post is that you should never assume that the ad tech works and you are getting what you paid for. Always measure for yourself and see if you can corroborate what you thought you were buying. If they won’t let you measure it, that tells you something. If you are not getting what you thought you paid for, then stop buying. The old saying was “trust, but verify.” In ad tech, the best practice is “don’t trust, always verify.” Otherwise you are deceiving yourself and voluntarily getting ripped off.