Ad Collision Prevention for Programmatic Buyers

Posted by Isiah Drake, Associate Product Manager & Erin Toth, Account Manager, Performance Media

With advertisers expanding frequency and reach of display ads, ad collision is becoming commonplace.  In fact, it Ad Collisionnow affects 20% of ads and varies by type of media. Ad collision occurs when multiple ads from the same campaign appear on a webpage simultaneously.  Duplicate ads serving at the same time negatively impact campaigns by:

  • Leveraging budget inefficiently
  • Damaging performance metrics

This Briefing illustrates exactly why ad collision occurs.  It then explores strategies for mitigation and prevention.

WHY AD COLLISION OCCURS

A variety of specific technical issues in programmatic media buying can cause/exacerbate ad collision:

  • Multiple Ad Slots:  Webpages are rendered by reading an HTML file from top to bottom. When the browser encounters an ad’s code, the ad calls the creative for the advertiser that won the ad impression—regardless whether the ad was bought via an ad exchange or placed directly with the publisher.  These calls to the ad server happen each time there is an ad slot. If there are multiple ad slots on a page, first ad slot renders, then the second ad, etc. The ability to know which advertiser will win the third ad slot when the first ad is rendered isn’t possible.
  • High Bids: Yield Management Platforms (YMPs) algorithmically decide which ad exchange and/or direct site buys are creating the highest yield (revenue) for the publisher and choose which impression to direct to whichever ad creative
  • Multiple Ad Exchanges: Publishers are placing inventory into multiple repositories (e.g. ad exchanges and supply side platforms (SSPs)). Consequently, it is possible for multiple exchanges to win an auction or multiple auctions on a single webpage at the same time.
  • Multiple DSPs:  Ad exchange inventory is purchased through multiple Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and therefore allows that ad exchange to be called multiple times across one webpage if the advertiser doesn’t maintain strict site lists or inventory between DSPs

CURBING AD COLLISION: PERFORMICS SOLUTIONS

Technology

Performics enables reporting on collided ads at the placement and site level.  For example, we can report on collided impressions at specific collision levels (e.g. 2 or 3 per page) and report total ad collisions to the advertiser. There are additional benefits to these reports such as recording suspicious activity and scoring relevancy per publisher. We can examine which sites are the most offensive, exclude those from our buying and use these sites as blacklist moving forward.

Industry Solution

For the industry as a whole to solve the ad collision problem, it should create an industry standard advertiser ID or campaign ID. This ID will be passed through the ad call and serve as a piggyback. This solution would allow publishers to understand when creatives from the same advertiser are called so that they don’t show multiple ads from the same advertiser on the page. These standard IDs would be issued by the NAI/MRC, which also opens advertisers up to audience collection by publisher, so strict terms and conditions should be put into place to avoid this. This will enable advertisers to understand that publishers have the technical means to avoid ad collision and hold them accountable.

BEST PRACTICES

Ad collision is caused by publishers and technology limitations.  Actions advertisers can take to mitigate this problem include:

  1. Ensure that frequency caps are set low enough; we recommend 1 per hour, per user minimum. This limits the amount of ads that a user can see. If the DSP cannot control frequency caps at the advertiser level or insertion order, users may see more than one ad per hour. It is still possible for an advertiser to win multiple bids on a single webpage; the frequency cap signals the DSP’s algorithm to decrease the amount of overall bids it places.solution
  2. Report on frequencies per site; exclude the highest offending ones. This limits the amount of sites that have ad-dense pages. Blend conversion data into your reporting to ensure you aren’t sacrificing conversion volume from sites that read high for ad-dense pages as they may still convert efficiently.
  3. Run only 728×90 on above-the-fold inventory. Most webpages don’t have two ad slots with this same size classified as above-the-fold inventory (e.g. ad slots that render without scrolling down). However, this severely limits inventory scale.
  4. Make sure that site lists are de-duped between all DSPs. This tactic limits the ability for ad slots on the page to pull the advertiser ads from different exchanges.
  5. Recommend adding Brand Safe technology that reports on ad collision by partner, site, URL and placement. Optimize out of sites that show high ad collision rates. Ad Collision cannot be fully prevented in the programmatic display space, but with the right tactics your campaigns should be able to reach below 10% ads involved in a collision.

Ad collision is a serious challenge that limits the effectiveness and efficiency of your display ads.  However, with a little work, you can limit ad collision, save some budget and reallocate to other tactics.

If you want to improve performance by proactively stopping ad collision, please contact Performics team today.

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