Richard (Rich) Russey operates as the VP of Sales at Acuity, a demand side platform in the programmatic advertising industry.
We interviewed him to learn more about his insights after hearing his thoughts as a panelist at an event by the Dallas Fort-Worth Interactive Marketing Association. He had so much to say on programmatic, we had to split his interview into two parts.
Here is part two, his thoughts on the future of digital advertising and ad-fraud prevention:
PA.O: Hello Rich, what are some of your concerns about the future?
Rich Russey: My worry about the future is that we are all going to be so connected, our information might not be from reputable sources.
5 years ago marketers were afraid of user-generated content. Now they can’t get enough of it. We are seeing so many non-facts circulating around about major events, like Ferguson. That is what scares me about some of the user generated content – some is not trustworthy and we get entirely too much.
PA.O: What are your thoughts on how we should best collect, regulate and use the data from our consumers?
Rich Russey: It’s not about getting the data at this point. Data has been out there before there even was the Internet. Banks sell your mortgage data to several other companies all the time. You get letters in the mail from bankers saying what your mortgage is and how they can help you with it.
The key is data transparency and using technology to benefit the consumer experience. There is a lot of data out there, and marketers need help to decipher it and use it with transparency. I believe that the legislative side is definitely moving slowly because they don’t understand this environment, as data is non-identifiable and there are mechanisms in place to protect the consumer. Big data companies are being quite careful.
The Internet is trying to help consumers along the journey and make their experiences online more relevant to them. But, there are mistakes. Just because I’m looking at baby pictures, it doesn’t mean I’m a pregnant woman. You have to look at multiple data points.
Will more mistakes be made? Absolutely. You have to scrub through the bad data to find the good. Data is less the issue of what you have and more of what you can do with it.
Consumers only hear that big brother is watching and that there can be some big things happening around their information. But when consumers hear the benefits that data provides, like one-click pay on Amazon, they realize that when you take data away from the Internet you remove all the services that go with it. Many people would say that having their data out there is better than operating without it because it benefits their daily lives.
PA.O: Data breaches are a huge concern for everyone in the programmatic and overall marketing industry. How do you recommend we best protect partners, customers and their consumers?
Rich Russey: I think that companies in, at least, the marketing and advertising sectors are constantly trying to partner with other businesses that are fighting fraud and the distribution of malware. That is a never ending process – it’s a huge industry. If we don’t continue to stay ahead of it, it will get ahead of us.
Companies need to integrate with several partners to fight fraud and malware. You should have multiple layers of protection because different technologies and services do different things. Acuity uses several layers from Fraudlogix all the way to Peer 39 to protect their customers. There are a multiple things we do within our own system, too. Protective measures continue to advance. We continue to talk and partner with all of the main verification partners in order to evolve and keep our clients safe.
PA.O: Can you describe what businesses specifically like yours do to protect customers?
Rich Russey: Acuity’s system monitors bot fraud, which is a non-human reacting to your ad.
Bot fraud is a machine that is trying to fool you into thinking that it’s a person. Our system looks for patterns in how content is clicked. If we see an inordinate amount of clicks within a geographic or IP address, the system would then note this. Our data refreshes every 60 seconds, which is among the best in the industry. We notice this bot fraud immediately. We pick up and eliminate those types of sites targeted by bot fraud on the fly.
There are sites that are going up at a rate of 30 thousand pages a day. If you are using the long tail of the open exchanges, you have to have systems in place to scan and classify all pages to recognize human impressions. We won’t even serve an ad on a page our system has never seen before. We will monitor and research a site before an ad goes up.
PA.O: What are some of the best practices for preventing ad-fraud?
Rich Russey: Marketers need to start having metrics of success that are different from click-through rates.
Real eyeballs are hard to emulate. If you have metrics of success that are not clicks, such as engagement, viewability and registration, that drives consumers to take a real action beyond the click. As a service provider in this industry, the more transparency we give back to our clients, the better they can sleep. Companies have to stop working in a nontransparent environment. Transparency is going to help us and our clients eliminate fraud.
That’s the irony of clicks – we’re still in our infancy.
The evolution of digital advertising had clicks as the main metric. People would say, “Oh, I have a great click-through rate, I’m awesome,” but all they were doing was throwing more money at the fraud rather than having an engagement metric that drove users further down the purchase funnel and eliminated the fraudulent activity. As marketers and publishers, we all have to work together in fighting click-fraud. It hurts everyone in the end.
As an industry, we need to look for main metrics that we can’t fake. We need to require more actions to be taken by the user.
Certain things tie back to real people and actual viewability. A metric used to be to drive someone two pages into a site or to get an email address. It’s about tying all metrics back to consumer behavior, online and offline.
Interested in reading part one of his interview? Click here.