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Proving Web Targeting Actually Works

DoubleVerify, Kantar's Compete partner on new viewable ad verification product
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The online ad industry often touts its ability to eliminate the sort of waste that is common in traditional media through its ability to provide superior targeting. But in practice, the industry's targeting capabilities often leave a lot to desired.

To help improve the medium's precision, two key third-party research firms are teaming up. DoubleVerify has announced that it will combine its ad viewability data with audience data from the analytics firm Kantar Media Compete in an effort to help advertisers find out if the audiences they’re targeting are the ones actually seeing their ads.

Specifically, the partners’ new Ad VRF tool cross-references impressions tracked by DoubleVerify with the audience profiles Kantar Media Compete compiles via its panel of 2 million U.S. users. After DoubleVerify fires its pixels to record viewability data, that data is also captured by Kantar Media Compete, which then sifts through its own database to match users—combining its audience data with DoubleVerify's viewability data.

What does that get you? Well, theoretically, rather than trusting that an ad reached a certain demo because a site claims its audience is 68 percent female, an advertiser can use the tool to see that actually only nine women visited it, for example. 

Thus, if it works, Ad VRF should allow advertisers to measure their audiences the same way they target them, explained DoubleVerify svp of sales and marketing Mark Pearlstein. "The big difference is that the entire basis for our measurement is based down to the user,” said Pearlstein, referring to it as “building-block level.” The companies have been working on the partnership for roughly 10 months, he said.

DoubleVerify launched as an ad verification vendor in 2008, promising to help brands avoid dicey Web content. But the company is looking to broaden its offerings. "Verification was a good point-solution that got us into the game,” said Pearlstein.

Since then the company has seen advertisers’ interest in viewability rise and developed those capabilities as well, working them into Ad VRF as well. But those capabilities have—potentially—come at some cost. Online measurement giant comScore filed lawsuits against DoubleVerify and two other companies in July for claiming the companies infringe on several of comScore’s patents relating to online viewability measurement.