Product Perspectives: Winning the Long Term Quality Battle

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In recent posts we defined the different types of invalid activity and low quality activity that we’re seeing in the industry today, and then outlined the immediate actions we are undertaking to fight against the issues.

Since this is a long-term battle, there are additional investments and work we are doing to meet our overall objective of making the Internet better while advancing our customers’ long-term best interest by maintaining a quality ecosystem free of malware, invalid activity, piracy, and content that leads to undesirable outcomes.

ENGINEERING COMMITMENT

We are making a stronger commitment in our engineering organization to have a fully-staffed team working on detection and analysis tools. We have a VP of Engineering currently leading this team dedicated to ongoing efforts.

CATEGORIZATION AND FRAUD DETECTION PARTNERSHIPS

Due to the different types of invalid activity that can occur and the constant evolution of the rogue techniques being used, we are doubling our efforts by not only building internal technologies, but also working with companies specializing in detection of invalid activity to help us identify activity we need to remove from the platform.

We are currently starting up tests with multiple third-party vendors and will be building this out over time. You can expect future announcements when any partnerships are finalized.

ENFORCEMENT: POLICY AND FINANCIAL RAMIFICATIONS

After we detect invalid activity, we need to effectively enforce against it. Our current policy allows us to blacklist offending sites and IP addresses to remove them from participating on our platform and to give strikes to sellers that can turn into a suspension or outright removal.

There are challenges here in that many sellers are not intentionally involved in invalid activity, but they happen to buy from other parties who don’t have a direct relationship with AppNexus and are the ones actually behind the invalid activity.

Our sellers need ways to be more diligent about whom they work with and why, so AppNexus is providing more tools to help our sellers detect, identify and stop working with partners creating invalid activity. We know that education is a key piece to this and that we can take a leadership role in educating buyers and sellers on what to watch out for and why.

We’ve already talked about a lot of the detection work we are doing, but we are going to revisit our strike policy and also think about what types of financial implications this should have for all parties involved. This will take additional planning and time to create new policies based on the state of the ecosystem today.

AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT AND UNWINDING

With improved detection capabilities and policies, our next step will be enforcing these policies in a way that requires as little as human involvement as possible to allow it to scale and avoid error.

For example, if we determine a domain to have a significant amount of non-human traffic, we would then want fully automated steps to blacklist the domain, communicate this to the seller, and take the appropriate policy actions. All of this should be automated, which will require our product, engineering, legal, and finance teams to work together to bring that to reality.

CLIENT ADVISORY BOARD FOR QUALITY

We are creating a Client Advisory Board for customers who want to communicate with our product team on a regular basis about issues relating to quality and jointly work on solutions to the long-term fight our industry faces. If you are interested in participating in this, please email qualityquestions [at] appnexus [dot] com or let your account manager know about your interest in participating.

More details will be communicated on our long-term plans as they are finalized, but rest assured quality is something we take very seriously and we will continue to invest in solutions for 2013, 2014, and beyond.

Filed under Product Perspectives.

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