Managing Ad Network Quality

Todd FaucherTodd Faucher, Vice President

An online advertising network, or ad network, is a business model that connects advertisers to websites that want to earn primary or additional revenue by displaying advertisements. The key function of an ad network is acquisition of ad space supply from website publishers and coordination of the ad supply with advertiser demand. There are many types of ad networks. Katch is a platform that enables “vertical” ad networks that target advertising and publisher relationships in specific verticals.

When managing an ad network comprised of hundreds of publishers, it is key to understanding the variances in quality from this large quantity. Not doing so would lead to unpredictable quality trends for advertisers who are all sophisticated and prudent in managing their online marketing dollars.

Publishers come in all shapes and sizes, from individuals to large corporations. Anybody can become an online publisher. All you really need is a website that gets traffic. Building a website is easy, and something that anybody can achieve with inexpensive and easy to use software tools. Getting the traffic to that website is the greater challenge of being a successful publisher. It is the means of getting traffic to a website that will have the greatest impact on the quality that is delivered to the advertiser.

What dictates “quality” to an advertiser? Well, mainly the intent of the consumer clicking on their ad. Is the consumer seriously interested in purchasing the product offered by the advertiser? And, is the consumer ready to make a decision and purchase now? The intent of the consumer is directly related to the marketing efforts of the publisher that drove the consumer to that publisher’s website. If a website provides consumers online quotes for health insurance, the intent of any consumer visiting that website is likely strong – otherwise, they would have no reason to visit that website. And, a website that focuses on cooking recipes would not be a high-intent site for displaying health insurance ads.

So, how can an ad network determine the value of traffic by publisher? Basically, they can rely on advertiser participation and feedback. Many advertisers are willing to place a pixel on their website on a page that indicates consumer intent. The most common placement is a quote confirmation page. This is the page that the consumer is directed to after they have provided all of their personal information that is required for producing a quote for the product or service that the consumer has interest in purchasing. This is often referred to as the “Thank You” page due to the messaging to the consumer placed on this page; i.e. “Thank you for requesting a quote from ABC Insurance. We will be contacting you shortly.”

Some advertisers choose to place a pixel on a sales confirmation page, which is the ultimate indicator of intent. Consumers that have chosen to purchase the service or product offered by the advertiser only reach this page. Most advertisers measure the effectiveness of their advertising dollars by calculating their Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). However, not all advertisers offer a product or service that can be purchased online. These advertisers measure CPA by tracking the results of the leads that are received through their website.

It is the analysis of the reporting of these different pixel types that allows an ad network to determine the quality of click traffic that is coming from its many different publishers. A more complex algorithm is then utilized to appropriately set a pricing index for each publisher, relative to the overall quality that they deliver.