Agency Offers Brands ‘Safe’ Ad Solution

As online ad exchanges grow in importance, traditional brands are wrestling with several concerns. For one, they worry about blindly buying dicey inventory. And in today’s pro-regulation environment, they worry about committing privacy violations.

Adnetik, the independent agency trading desk spun off from Havas last year, believes it has a solution to address both concerns. The company on Monday (Mar. 21) will introduce the AIM (Audience Investment Management) Index—which promises to establish a vetted list of sites and individual Web pages which are viewed as brand safe, based on 35 different criteria.

In addition and in light of the heated privacy debate, the AIM Index will offer advertisers the somewhat radical option to buy ads on an exchange without using cookies. That will turn some heads in the industry, since many advertisers turn to ad exchanges expressly to target specific users via cookie data.

As for the Index itself, Adnetik has built a proprietary page evaluation tool, which according to CEO Ed Montes automatically assigns a set of values to Web pages based on factors such as their relative level of clutter, the number of ads they carry and the semantic nature of the page’s text. The idea is to filter out junky pages or sites—while creating massive lists of brand safe sites (in the millions) that should help make client feel more comfortable with exchange, real-time buying model. Brands can also create custom indexes based on whatever factors matter most to them.

“We don’t know of any other [agency trading desk] that can do this besides us,” said Montes.

Besides providing brands with some assurance that their ads won’t end up on shady or junky long-tail sites, Adnetik also appears to want to paint itself—and the exchange model—as more trustworthy when it comes to privacy and targeting in the eyes of an increasingly watchful U.S. government. Because the AIM Index will allow brands to target based on page quality, the need to use cookies (which makes many regulators and consumers queasy) is eliminated.

“We were founded on the principal of bringing efficiency to our clients investment in media but what’s happening today is that optimization is all about getting credit for the last action…so the industry optimizes to the providers that can drop the last impression regardless of quality…[which] is why brands are ending up on low quality sites, why inventory prices for premium publishers are low. What we believe our new technology can do is provide the right inventory including the  environment and value it appropriately. All without needing to use cookies.”