How Publishers Can Balance Superior Ad Quality With Their Monetization Goals

By OpenX in OpenX Innovations|February 13, 2018

By Ted Yu, Director of Product


Following the decision by multiple advertisers to slash millions in their digital ad budgets last year due to brand safety concerns, publishers are under immense pressure to deliver high quality environments. The rapid growth in the programmatic industry and massive demand from advertisers has exacerbated quality challenges flooding the market with ads, making the job of quality control a daunting task. Consider the scope of the issue: on an average month, publishers see bids from several hundred thousand marketers which are segmented in several thousand industry categories and subcategories.

Against this literal sea of bidding activity, publishers are seeking to balance the key issues of ensuring  advertisers and consumers are protected from bad ads while also ensuring they are driving effective monetization programs.

In previous posts we have discussed many of the many of the fraud prevention and other quality measures brands and publishers need to take to curate the highest quality marketplace.  This post will highlight important steps publishers need to take to avoid unintentionally leaving money on the table as they develop build greater control over their ad quality filters. Here are some ways they can go about it:

Utilizing Intelligent Quality Tools

Publishers need ways to effectively manage ad quality on a huge scale and respond swiftly to problematic ad placements. There are tools in market like PubNation, which we acquired last year, that provide the ability to monitor ad quality at scale across all demand partners while also getting direct user feedback on poor quality ads in near real-time.

However, there are many complexities when it comes to ad quality and publishers need to have flexible controls that allow them to create rules that avoid “one-size-fits-all” approaches. Ad quality settings applied in broad strokes can limit a healthy portion of ad requests, causing brands to miss out on audiences they would want to reach and publishers to lose out on revenue.

At OpenX we’ve developed powerful ad filter controls that give publishers the ability to easily create exceptions, like blocking entire industries while still allowing specific brands or advertisers within those industries in on a case-by-case basis. For example, a publisher could block the “dating” industry while making an exception to allow the brand “” Given the growing popularity of programmatic direct relationships between publishers and advertisers, this level of ad quality management is particularly critical to get the greatest scale.

Another consideration for ad quality management is the transaction method between a publisher and an advertiser. For example, a publisher that blocks auto-audio play ads in the open exchange may be willing to allow that type of ad creative for a programmatic direct deal with a vetted podcast advertiser on a specific placement. Platforms that offer this kind of flexibility to enable specific ad quality settings for different monetization methods can help publishers ensure they are hitting the right balance of brand safety and revenue management.

Assessing the Financial Impact of Ad Filtering

An important performance indicator that publishers may overlook is the revenue opportunity associated with the broad implementation of ad quality settings. Leading ad exchanges offer the ability for publishers to see quantified revenue opportunity that may be possible by adjusting ad quality settings. Some platforms even offer publishers the ability to see revenue opportunity estimates by toggling various ad quality settings in a blocked advertiser report to better maximize revenue. In fact, the average OpenX publisher partner could increase their monthly revenue by between 7-10%, with some potentially achieving 20-30% by fine tuning their existing advertiser blocks upon re-evaluation. Given the variance in daily performance on most exchanges, it’s helpful to look at estimated revenue opportunity over a longer time period such as a month to inform these decisions.

Both publishers and advertisers are refining their approaches to programmatic advertising to deliver better business outcomes while also maintaining impeccable ad quality standards. Working with a knowledgeable and honest partner is often a wise complement to a robust in-house team, and the right partners can provide tools that work at scale to make ‘smart’ decisions about ad quality and the impact on brand protection and ad revenue.