February 19, 2015
Ask an Expert: Pixalate CEO “Trust is a Critical Component of Success” in Advertising
By: John Murphy, VP of Marketplace Quality
The serious issue of fraud in the online advertising industry is – or should be – top of mind for us all. The good news is that key industry players are taking action to expose fraudulent traffic and set definitive standards to create and maintain safe and trusted advertising marketplaces. One such company, Pixalate, has debuted its own set of standards via its Global Seller Trust Index, to provide much needed transparency into RTB marketplaces.
This week, we had a chance to chat with Jalal Nasir, Pixalate CEO and Co-Founder, to get his thoughts on why quality standards are an increasingly critical ingredient to eliminating fraud. Jalal also offered his insights on the future of the industry as a whole.
OpenX: Why does the industry need quality standards, such as the Pixalate’s Global Seller Trust Index?
Jalal Nasir: We saw that open markets succeed best when there are independent ratings that can serve as a trusted benchmark. Trust is a critical component of success for any open market. Pixalate is in a unique position, because of our access to the global RTB data stream, to offer actionable insights into the challenges faced by RTB with a neutral assessment. An independent quality rating standard represents a powerful opportunity for the programmatic industry to measure itself; a quality benchmark standard driven by data also challenges us to think deeply about how we’ve been measuring success.
It’s not that RTB marketplaces have struggled to find trust; it’s that the traditional metrics used in advertising have actually always had that struggle. An independent rating standard that assesses quality, not reach, for instance, provides the holistic framework we need to drive successful adoption of programmatic.
What was the most surprising finding as you conducted the research for the Index?
We focus on overall trends in the data rather than particular events or performers. The most powerful trend we’ve seen, month after month, is that reach does not correlate to quality—it’s not even a question. Raw numbers simply do not equal results. That upends everything we’ve assumed in online advertising and web analytics since the first dot com era, but it’s undeniable. Reach is a legacy metric, and the reality is that in the programmatic era, reliance on reach harms brands.
Do you see a need to offer measurement in other areas?
We are actively working with partners across formats, channels and verticals to develop the Index to best serve the market. Pixalate is committed to providing a comprehensive rating standard for the industry that helps point the way toward meaningful solutions.
How would you summarize 2014 in terms of TQ?
What has been really encouraging to witness is an early shift by more progressive players away from a point solution approach to a holistic quality approach. Discrete challenges like fraud, or viewability, or publisher masking, really aren’t discrete at all. You can’t have quality inventory if you’re addressing things symptomatically. The phenomenal level of interest in the Global Seller Trust Index launch in December, from analyst reviews to media coverage to industry engagement, is a testament to the desire by the industry to address these challenges in a serious way. We have a long way to go, but we’re on a positive trajectory.
What are your predictions for the industry in 2015? For TQ in 2015?
I think we will continue to see plenty of mergers and acquisitions. We’ll see a lot more investment in, and focus on, mobile and video, particularly app fraud. As an industry, not only will the conversation continue to shift towards an emphasis on quality—more importantly, we’ll see solutions start to surface.
Specifically, I think the industry will get sharper. Buyers and publishers will become savvier. Buyers, for example, are going to want to know how programmatic players are working at the user level, for instance. In changing what we measure, we must also change how we measure. Discussions can be very helpful within the industry, but to cement market credibility, we’re going to need real solutions, real standards. Data will be the most important element in programmatic success in 2015 and beyond.