Quality: A Founding Principle at PubMatic

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By Anand Das, PubMatic Co-Founder & CTO

 

“Methbot.”

Identified earlier this week by White Ops, an invalid traffic detection and prevention service provider, and named for obscure references embedded in its code, “Methbot” is a sophisticated Russian botnet designed to capture digital advertising revenue by generating nonhuman traffic—mainly on video inventory. The story has dominated news coverage and conversations throughout the industry this week—and with good reason: according to reports, Methbot is “the most profitable and advanced ad fraud operation ever seen by the industry,” generating as much as 200-300 million nonhuman impressions per day and siphoning upwards of $180 million[1] from the digital media industry.

Quality in all of its various forms has been paramount since we founded PubMatic in 2006, and it remains a top priority today. In addition to continually updating our filtering and inventory quality tools proactively, we also partner with various third-party service providers to help provide the high levels of protection, visibility and transparency our customers and clients have come to expect from PubMatic over the years.

After conducting our own analysis, we’re pleased to report that the inventory and ad quality tools and processes we have in place mitigated the impact of Methbot on our publishers and demand partners. In fact, less than 0.002% of the impressions on our platform were affected, and we’re confident that we’ve succeeded in addressing the issues that are creating invalid traffic generated by this botnet scheme. Accordingly, we will be working with all of our publisher and advertiser clients to assure that we continue to provide the means to address issues such as this.

This incident highlights how important it is for all of the players in our industry to work together to ensure that we’re providing consumers with quality advertising experiences–whether we’re an SSP, DSP, DMP, ATD or any other acronym.


For more information on PubMatic’s inventory and ad quality tools, visit www.PubMatic.com or email info@pubmatic.com.

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/20/technology/ad-fraud-online-methbot/

Why You Hate Ad Tech

This piece authored by Evan Simeone, Vice President of Product Management at PubMatic.

This piece authored by Evan Simeone, Vice President of Product Management at PubMatic.

As a longtime software developer and product manager, I value innovation. Unfortunately, innovation and easy, seamless operation aren’t related. Or if they are, it’s often an inverse relationship. After all, what distinguishes an early adopter is a willingness to put up with an incomplete, unevenly polished product simply because it’s new. Ad tech provides unsettlingly consistent examples. The whole industry didn’t exist two decades ago, but in that short time it has evolved and innovated constantly – criticism of ad technology never faults it for its slow pace. So in effect, whether we like it or not, in this industry we are all early adopters at all times; by the time one piece of tech stabilizes and is adopted widely, it’s no longer sufficient and the next new thing comes along. But these are integrated business applications we’re talking about, not the latest consumer gadget. Adopting new solutions is not so simple when you need everything to be connected and interoperable, when you’re trying to run a business at scale, for example. So for all its innovation and rapid change, ad tech quality and effectiveness often seems to be going backwards, at least from the perspective of actual users trying to run actual digital media businesses. That’s why so many people hate ad tech.

To say this poses a challenge for ad tech product developers is an understatement, which is why many in the ecosystem simply choose to ignore it completely. But this is exactly the problem we decided to solve at PubMatic. How can we deliver ad tech solutions to publishers that are at once innovative, high quality, flexible and adaptable to inevitable change? How can we provide a consistent, reliable, easy-to-operate platform that is also radically innovative and flexible?

Two years ago we set about answering these questions. In order to get a better handle on the problem and understand it clearly from users’ point of view, we talked to hundreds of people in the industry—day-to-day users and business stakeholders of all types. We investigated across all regions globally, both on the publisher and the demand side. While we saw a lot of variation in the feedback we received, there was a consistent pattern of frustration with ad technology that is either considered legacy and generic, or niche and difficult to integrate.

Frequently, “legacy” and “generic” were defined in terms of the traditional ad servers that were designed primarily for desktop display inventory, making them poorly suited to today’s multi-channel, multi-format, multi-device businesses. In the category of newer, niche solutions, they cited those that focus only on mobile or native, which may do one specific thing well but are difficult to integrate into a scalable enterprise solution and workflow.

We also took a hard look at our own technology and reassessed every piece of it, both individually and in the wider context of a full, integrated solution, and asked ourselves a few important questions. How completely does our tech address the full spectrum of modern demand channels, screens, and formats? How easy is it to use all together, to operate at scale and to integrate with other solutions? How adaptable is the foundation, and is it flexible enough to deal with whatever tomorrow will bring?

While we were proud of the products we’d built, we quickly realized that in order to solve the bigger problem we needed to rethink how our products work together and how other technologies can plug in. We needed to think of everything we built within the context of a complete, interoperable full-stack solution—one that was at the same time entirely modular, extensible and customizable. Pieces that weren’t compatible with this objective needed to be redesigned and rewritten, while others could be adapted and better integrated.

The main challenge was that everything needed to fit together seamlessly and yet also be decoupled and pluggable. Internally, we used the metaphor of a Lego kit. You can use all the pieces that come in the box and have a complete end-to-end publisher ad tech stack, including direct ad serving, indirect monetization, cross-channel optimization, mobile, native, video, and comprehensive advanced analytics for all of it… or you can rearrange and swap out pieces from other kits to develop endlessly varied, customized and differentiated solutions to meet your needs and easily integrate new innovation.

Developing a seamless full-stack solution that’s also completely modular is, of course, easier said than done, and it did not happen overnight. And I’m happy to say that with the recent announcement of our new unified, modular platform, PubMatic SEVEN, we released exactly that. It was worth the time it took because the investments we made in providing not just point solutions or “pipes” that work, but in refining the workflow and interoperability, the integration points and APIs, made a real difference in the experience publishers have running their businesses. And because the platform is entirely modular and extensible, we have a great foundation to innovate further and to make it easy for our publishers to integrate the innovations of others in the ecosystem.

The exciting part is that although the recent release of SEVEN is the culmination of a couple of years of work, this is really just the beginning. We see the pace of innovation and product development only accelerating in 2017. And because we have a completely modular, well-integrated full stack platform on which to build, we’re confident that future innovation will support easy operation and overall quality, rather than get in its way.

For more information on PubMatic’s comprehensive revenue management platform, SEVEN, contact your account manager, email info@pubmatic.com or follow @PubMatic on Twitter.

OpenWrap: Open For Business

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Hussain Rahim, Director of Product Marketing

This month, PubMatic is celebrating its 10th anniversary–in other words, we’re celebrating ten years of working to deliver products that are carefully aligned with the needs of our publishers. Over the past year we’ve been listening carefully to the challenges publishers face and their needs as they navigate the complicated world of header bidding and wrapper tags. We’ve seen tremendous growth and adoption not just of header bidding (in fact, we’re seeing more than 100 billion header-bidding-enabled impressions per month), but also in wrapper tag interest and adoption, growth that we’re looking to accelerate even more as we approach 2017.

While we’ve always promised full transparency with our Wrapper Solution, we’ve also known that providing the flexibility of an open source solution is important to some publishers. Since we first devised our Wrapper Solution we were committed to making it open source, and last month we followed through on that promise.

OpenWrap is an open source project hosted on GitHub under an Apache license that provides access to the technology that lies at the core of the PubMatic Wrapper Solution—specifically, our wrapper tag. This ensures fair and transparent auction dynamics, removing the ambiguity and risk associated with closed-source proprietary wrapper tags available in the market.

OpenWrap also provides the benefit of ensuring transparency for any header tag partner that a publisher wishes to use, further streamlining the wrapper tag integration process and driving interoperability across the header bidding and ad tech ecosystem.

Finally, we see OpenWrap as a great tool for power users and advanced publishers that already have a strong understanding of wrapper tags and want to take advantage of a powerful and extensible tool to customize it and/or plug-in their own analytics—capabilities that existing open-source wrapper tags do not provide. This allows publishers that want this level of control to fully take their header bidding strategy into their own hands.

During our conversations with publishers this year, we’ve heard publishers say they see existing open-source solutions currently on the market as a bait-and-switch situation, promising control and then charging for analytics and support as the integration gets complicated. We don’t think publishers should be left to complete complex integrations and without, account management, a easy-to-use UI or the enterprise-grade analytics. We see these as core elements of any wrapper tag and are excited to be able to offer these features to OpenWrap users.This makes PubMatic’s Wrapper Solution, built on our OpenWrap technology, is the industry’s first and only free, open-source header management solution that provides this level of transparency while simultaneously allowing publishers to reclaim control over their ad decisioning.

We look forward to contributions from publishers and ad tech professionals in the open-source community as they dive into the code behind OpenWrap. We’re sure that their contributions will help reinforce OpenWrap’s position as the most publisher-friendly and feature-complete wrapper tag on the market.

To find out more about header bidding, OpenWrap or PubMatic’s enterprise-grade Wrapper Solution, email info@pubmatic.com.

Thriving in a Fragmented Ecosystem: The Case for a Unified Ad Server

Kristen Fellows, Senior Director, Product Marketing

Kristen Fellows, Senior Director, Product Marketing

When it comes to the current state of ad serving, Gavin Dunaway, the Senior Editor of AdMonsters, said it best: “It’s time to shift our focus from workarounds to a long-term solution. And that involves reconsidering how the ad server operates.

It’s true: efforts to keep pace with more impressions, more technology, more touch points, and the level of relevancy required by consumers led to a highly fragmented technology stack that continues to fall short of publishers’ needs. As new screens, formats and channels are added the infrastructure only becomes more cumbersome. In fact, current ad serving solutions have evolved from complex (and expensive) to actually inhibiting revenue growth for publishers.

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In light of all of this complication and chaos, we want to address three of the biggest challenges facing publishers in the digital media ecosystem today—managing fragmented inventory, optimizing across demand channels, and overcoming difficult system integrations—and PubMatic is developing solutions to help solve for each of them.

Challenge #1: Managing fragmented inventory.

According to research from Winterberry Group, on average marketers use more than 12 different tools—and some as many as 31 or more—to manage campaigns and data[1]. We all know that publishers face this same challenge, as complexity is evident across the entire digital ecosystem.

With that in mind, take a look at the diagram above. Let’s assume that publishers have different log-ins, UIs, and workflows for IO-based, programmatic, native, mobile and video campaigns (which clearly is a reality for many companies). Now imagine you’re in Ad Ops creating campaigns, managing inventory, doing optimizations, and configuring channels… the resulting amount of time spent learning and leveraging various solutions is staggering.

Imagine the time you’d save if you could do all of this from one location.

That’s where our Unified Ad Server comes in. We built it from the ground up with the goal of simplifying the workflow associated with managing both programmatic and non-programmatic demand, various screens, and ad formats—all from a single dashboard.

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Challenge #2: Optimizing across demand channels.

You might be thinking ‘Great, I can see all my inventory in one place, but what good is that if I can’t optimize across those various sales channels?’ Publishers are looking to increase monetization, and with existing solutions they’ve had to do a bit of guesswork to determine how to best do that. Until recently, no easy, simple option existed for optimizing across demand channels, despite the importance of the ability to do so on publishers’ bottom line.

In a discussion on the topic at a recent PubAcademy, the head of revenue operations for a large, US-based media company described how his organization uses a combination of tech partners and tools (as many as eight or nine in some scenarios) to address this issue: “We do allow our indirect revenue sources—whether associated with private exchange deals or open exchange deals, to compete with and even trump our direct sold campaigns.”

At PubMatic, we believe not only in giving publishers as much control as possible, but also offering simple solutions for complex challenges. With our Unified Ad Server publishers can decide if and how much programmatic demand like open market RTB and private marketplaces competes with direct sold campaigns (i.e. guaranteed line items)— and to do so on an impression-by-impression basis. Publishers can determine which direct line items they want programmatic to compete with, the degree of impact on higher priority line items they’re willing to accept, and weigh that against the potential monthly revenue upside.

Feedback from Bonnier Tidskrifter, an early adopter of our Unified Ad Server, highlights the importance of addressing these major publisher pain points. “It’s great to see companies like PubMatic developing the ability for publishers like us to optimize revenue across channels,” said Bonnier Tidskrifter Head of Programmatic Stefan Carlsson, “Especially without sacrificing guarantees.”

Challenge #3: Difficult system integrations.

Given all of the challenges and complications we’ve discussed thus far, is it at all surprising that another major publisher challenge has to do with the difficulty of trying to integrate with different partners and navigate the “ins and outs” of using various systems?

Since our inception in 2006, PubMatic has been focused on publishers’ needs, and we believe that the ability to leverage the insights and expertise that publishers have built over the lifetime of their business is invaluable in differentiating themselves and succeeding in today’s marketplace. That’s one reason why we built our Unified Ad Server as part of our customizable, modular solution. We want publishers to continue to use their proprietary workflows, systems, and in-depth knowledge of their own businesses to truly establish a competitive advantage in the crowded digital media ecosystem.

As one industry expert recently commented at a PubMatic PubAcadmey, featuring header bidding-related content, “There’s a need in the market for a more progressive ad serving solution than DFP.” At PubMatic, we certainly agree, and we encourage you to take a few minutes to find out more about our Unified Ad Server and all of the other components of our revenue management platform, SEVEN.

To learn more about PubMatic’s Unified Ad Server, the company’s comprehensive revenue automation platform, SEVEN, or any of the other PubMatic products and services, visit www.pubmatic.com or contact your PubMatic Account Rep.

[1] “Too Many Tools? New Data on the Complexity of Marketing Technology,” HubSpot Blog. 15 Feb. 2015.