Home Advertising Tips Advertising Solutions Aren't Always Black And White

Advertising Solutions Aren't Always Black And White

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The ad industry requires a team to play as much defense as offense. Protecting brands, computer systems and networks from malicious content, software and unwanted bots requires a solid perimeter and a good defense as well as an effectual manner of controlling access.

There are two ways to protect brands from these malicious factors: whitelisting and blacklisting. But which is the most effective method? As a pioneer in the programmatic ad industry, our company has developed a deep understanding of these two approaches. Through technology, research and trial and error, we have come to the conclusion that dynamic blacklisting is the most effective of these two forms of “blocklisting.”

Whitelisting, as one may assume by the name, is the opposite of its cousin, the blacklist. With this application, a list of acceptable entities that are allowed access to a system or network is developed, and everything else is blocked. In other words, the doorman won’t allow access to enter the party unless your name is on the list.

The concept of whitelisting is not unlike harvesting a crop of apples from an apple orchard. You may find that the two closest trees are free of worms or disease, so you limit yourself to picking the fruit exclusively from those trees because you know they’re OK. But what a lazy way to harvest! There’s an entire orchard full of apples you haven’t even checked. If you’d examine the other trees, you may find that there is no problem with any of them. And if you did find worms, you could spray the affected trees so that the threat disappears. You’d end up with way more trees to choose from and way more apples to harvest. It would be very wasteful to only pick from the two trees you knew were safe.

Brands are actually telling their agencies (and some agencies are telling brands) to just create a group of really good sites that are known to be safe from bots and malware, and forget about everything else. Not only is this a lazy way of doing things; marketers miss out on a great deal of business. One of the few advantages to whitelisting is that you needn’t worry so much about your ads being sent out to sites that you are unfamiliar with, so the fear of safe content is minimal.

However, whitelisting ends up being considerably more expensive because it’s like saying, “Just go and run on ESPN, Fox News and other well-known, expensive sites.&quot; In actuality, whitelisting marketers are picking 100, maybe 200 or even 300 sites if they’re good. But a human cannot possibly go over all the sites online and whitelist them. If you only make a whitelist of well-known names, it’s going to cost you twice as much if you are lucky in clicks and other expenses, not to mention several customers who don’t visit those sites enough.

So, this begs the question: Why are brands whitelisting and taking away millions of potential quality impressions when there’s a much better solution? It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The better solution, in my opinion, is blacklisting on the fly, otherwise known as dynamic blacklisting. A blacklist specifies any website that is known to contain unsafe content and/or suspicious or malicious entities like spyware or bots. Simply put, a blacklist is a list of sites on which a marketer does not want his or her ads to appear. Even the biggest, best websites can be invaded with malware at any time. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad site, it’s just unstable until the issue is fixed. The blacklist must make updates and adjustments along with it in real-time — not every month or week, but constantly. Hence the term “on the fly.”

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Shutterstock

The ad industry requires a team to play as much defense as offense. Protecting brands, computer systems and networks from malicious content, software and unwanted bots requires a solid perimeter and a good defense as well as an effectual manner of controlling access.

There are two ways to protect brands from these malicious factors: whitelisting and blacklisting. But which is the most effective method? As a pioneer in the programmatic ad industry, our company has developed a deep understanding of these two approaches. Through technology, research and trial and error, we have come to the conclusion that dynamic blacklisting is the most effective of these two forms of “blocklisting.”

Whitelisting, as one may assume by the name, is the opposite of its cousin, the blacklist. With this application, a list of acceptable entities that are allowed access to a system or network is developed, and everything else is blocked. In other words, the doorman won’t allow access to enter the party unless your name is on the list.

The concept of whitelisting is not unlike harvesting a crop of apples from an apple orchard. You may find that the two closest trees are free of worms or disease, so you limit yourself to picking the fruit exclusively from those trees because you know they’re OK. But what a lazy way to harvest! There’s an entire orchard full of apples you haven’t even checked. If you’d examine the other trees, you may find that there is no problem with any of them. And if you did find worms, you could spray the affected trees so that the threat disappears. You’d end up with way more trees to choose from and way more apples to harvest. It would be very wasteful to only pick from the two trees you knew were safe.

Brands are actually telling their agencies (and some agencies are telling brands) to just create a group of really good sites that are known to be safe from bots and malware, and forget about everything else. Not only is this a lazy way of doing things; marketers miss out on a great deal of business. One of the few advantages to whitelisting is that you needn’t worry so much about your ads being sent out to sites that you are unfamiliar with, so the fear of safe content is minimal.

However, whitelisting ends up being considerably more expensive because it’s like saying, “Just go and run on ESPN, Fox News and other well-known, expensive sites.” In actuality, whitelisting marketers are picking 100, maybe 200 or even 300 sites if they’re good. But a human cannot possibly go over all the sites online and whitelist them. If you only make a whitelist of well-known names, it’s going to cost you twice as much if you are lucky in clicks and other expenses, not to mention several customers who don’t visit those sites enough.

So, this begs the question: Why are brands whitelisting and taking away millions of potential quality impressions when there’s a much better solution? It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The better solution, in my opinion, is blacklisting on the fly, otherwise known as dynamic blacklisting. A blacklist specifies any website that is known to contain unsafe content and/or suspicious or malicious entities like spyware or bots. Simply put, a blacklist is a list of sites on which a marketer does not want his or her ads to appear. Even the biggest, best websites can be invaded with malware at any time. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad site, it’s just unstable until the issue is fixed. The blacklist must make updates and adjustments along with it in real-time — not every month or week, but constantly. Hence the term “on the fly.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)


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