Did You Know Video Stuffing Can Erode Ad Revenue?
by Andrew Reed, on Jul 1, 2021 9:15:00 AM
As a publisher, maintaining a healthy user experience is key to maximizing the number of ads you serve and thus maximizing your ad revenue.
So keeping track of all the things that can hurt your carefully crafted user experience is a major part of producing a profitable website.
In this article, we are going to focus on an often hidden issue, video stuffing, and tell you how to protect your site and your users from this form of malvertising.
Understanding Video Stuffing
What is video stuffing?
Video stuffing is when a fraudster runs video ads that look legitimate on the surface, but load a large number of video ad tags or fire additional video ad impressions in the background, which are never visible to the end-user.
In this kind of malvertising attack, the bad actor is filling your webpage with unseen video advertisements in order to rack up ad impressions and rake in revenue.
In theory, this keeps your user experience relatively the same visually by not bombarding users with ads but causes a few major problems. First, it defrauds the advertiser by charging them for ads that are intentionally not being viewed, resulting in poor ad engagement metrics, which can ultimately bring down your yield. Second, these ads use your website’s resources to load multiple videos, causing a huge reduction in site speed (which has serious effects on user experience).
How It Can Harm Your Ad Revenue
Although users are still exposed to the same webpage and normal level of ads on the front end of your site, because the invisible ads are using up so much of your website's resources, your page load speed will suffer which can potentially push users to abandon their session.
While they bring in some of the most revenue, video ads are often already considered heavy ads and the hidden stacking of these resource-heavy files can reduce your site speed.
As a publisher, healthy site traffic, session lengths, and low bounce rates are the keys to maximizing your ad revenue. And creating good content while maintaining a pleasing user experience on your platform isn’t cheap.
The last thing you want is to have issues like video stuffing flying under the radar and pushing users away from your site after you have spent time and money getting them there.
A poorly managed user experience is therefore hurting you on two fronts. You are losing ad impressions as well as weakening the ROI of your marketing efforts.
If you are experiencing unexplained changes to your website metrics, it may be because fraudulent advertisers are taking advantage of your site.
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How To Protect Your Website
Putting in the hours to clean up your ad publishing and protect your users from frustrating user experiences will pay off (literally) through your ad revenue. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
1. Use Malicious Ad Detection Software
There are a number of solutions that will alert you to advertisers that are stuffing your website with hidden video ads and will protect you and your users from malicious advertisers.
If you are interested in seeing what this protection can do for your business, you can sign up for a cleanAD free trial here.
2. Move away from CPM compensation models
CPM, or cost per mille, is an ad compensation model that pays publishers for every 1,000 ad impressions whether a user interacts with the ad or not.
This can be convenient, but it opens the door to malicious actors taking advantage of your webpage.
Setting Cost Per Click (CPC) will prevent you from being targeted by malicious actors. This pricing model only payouts when a user interacts with the ad, making invisible ads and videos useless.
3. Adopt IAB standards
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has made a number of solutions aimed at clearing up the online advertising landscape. These include ads.txt, seller's.json, and the openRTB supply chain object, and most recently buyers.json
- Authorized digital sellers (ads.text):
Ads.txt is an online advertising initiative by IAB to make sure your ad inventory is only sold through trusted ad sellers. This is done by registering your site and creating a publisher ID that is then shared between you and your buyer, and vice versa.
With ads.txt you have a public record of authorized sellers.
This way if you have interacted with a seller or reseller and experience a malvertising attack, you can check ads.txt for them and add that reseller to your blocklist if they do no appear. This will effectively ban them from purchasing your ad inventory.
Sellers.json is an extension to ads.txt in that it shows the buyer all the hands your ad inventory went through on its way to its final bid.
Secondarily, the openRTB supply chain marks for the pubishler all the selling that was done before the final bid.
The newest addition to IAB standards, buyers.json is the mirror image of sellers.json, meaning that publishers can now who are buying their ads, while the demand chain object allows buyers to see all the hands their ads have gone through.
Video stuffing, being an invisible threat, can be difficult to catch. That’s why partnering with all the resources you can is your best bet in protecting your user, your webpage, and your revenue from bad actors trying to exploit your ad space.