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Money burningWith just 10 shopping days left before Christmas, there are millions (if not billions) of display ad impressions waiting to be served to online shoppers. A new report shows retailers behind these campaigns may be losing money because their ads aren’t properly geo-targeted.

Retailers are also more at risk of their ads running against brand-unfriendly content than other market segments in Q4. With performance like this, it’s no wonder the ad trafficking and targeting intermediaries are working together to develop better performance standards.

AdSafe Media (yes … another intermediary, but this one focuses on ad performance verification) analyzed over 34.9 billion display ad impressions from July to Sept 30 to come up with its Q3 Quarterly Safety Report.

The company's algorithm assesses the relative "safety" of a given webpage's content across multiple categories such as Spyware/Malware, Violence and Sexual Content. Each page is then ranked on a scale of 0 - 1,000 (with 1,000 being the most safe), and the ads that run on it judged accordingly.
How “safe” was the display ad market overall?

Either brands are getting more comfortable running campaigns on less-safe content, or the ad targeters and trafficking firms serving the ads are slacking off on their controls. The overall safety index slipped from 790 in Q2 to 743 in Q3 - a 6% drop. 

AdSafe Q3 ad safety index

Where the ads are coming from

Third-party platforms like ad exchanges, real-time bidding (RTBs) and sell-side platforms (SSPs) were still serving nearly half (48%) of all online display ad impressions. A third (33%) were served by ad networks. 

AdSafe Q3 ad serving composition

So despite their best efforts, it seems that most publishers still can't sell the bulk of their own inventory. 

Why retailers should especially be vigilant 

AdSafe’s research found that retailers were most at risk for ad waste and potential brand damage in Q4.

Some of that risk is due to the increased volume of impressions (for holiday campaigns) from retailers overall. (More impressions means more room for error). But the company found that retailers' ads were often served on less safe content overall:

Retailer online display campaigns appeared on inventory that was 5.6% higher risk for advertising than industry norms.

The report also found that retailers' ads were geo-targeted less accurately than the overall market.

AdSafe Q3 geotargeting and retailers

Tameka Kee

Published 14 December, 2010 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at tamekakee.com or follow her on Twitter

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