Guest Author: Dane Greisiger
A Q&A with Summer Han and Martin Zhang of Adbug
Most of the cyber risk companies deal with internet facing data is quantifiable. But digital advertising poses another significant problem for global organizations that have not done due diligence. To understand more about this specific kind of threat, I spoke with Summer Han, Vice President, and Martin Zhang, CEO of Adbug, a China-based search engine for digital advertising and ad verification service provider.
We believe that brand safety should be a prerequisite of digital advertising. You’re even better off not having your ads online sometimes than having them next to unsafe content.
Can you provide an overview of the problems AdBug addresses when helping companies protect their corporate brand?
SH: Our digital advertising verification works on three fronts—brand safety, viewability and anti-fraud. Digital advertising poses the questions of where your ads are and if they are being seen by consumers. When companies advertise on the internet it is common for their ads to end up on insecure pages—those that have brand-unsafe content such as pornography, violent images or political propaganda. Our safety solutions analyze the webpages where ads appear and if they prove insecure, we block those ads from showing up.
MZ: Sometimes when you advertise the media company might direct traffic from another site to create more impressions and this can lead to fraud. Another common problem we see is that ninety percent of malware on the internet is injected into ads which creates fraudulent impressions and drains money from media budgets. In both cases, our solution can tell you how many impressions are real and how many are fake while preventing fraud.
Describe a common scenario of how a company’s brand can become damaged or degraded.
SH: Many of these scenarios are culturally specific. The food safety issue has been one of the most talked about concerns in China in recent years. Suppose you are a baby formula producer and you buy advertising in China and that ad ends up next to an article about toxic content being added to baby formula. That will hurt your brand and your consumers will stop purchasing the product. We have seen this effect last for a long time—when young people see brand-unsafe content next to an ad, the negative impression can be hard to overcome.
MZ: Culturally specific problems are too often neglected by international advertisers who don’t have much local experience. In China, banks and insurance companies or wealth management companies will not want their ads next to political propaganda, as it creates an image of insecurity. Any content talking about the communist party and nongovernmental organizations is also prohibitive.
Should a company planning to purchase or bid on digital advertisement be concerned about fraud or paying for fake user clicks or impressions?
SH: Absolutely. We believe that brand safety should be a prerequisite of digital advertising. You’re even better off not having your ads online sometimes than having them next to unsafe content. In the United States and Europe, brand safety has been a topic for years but in China the market is just starting to talk about it. We have a localized team here that can provide customized solutions with a culturally sensitive approach.
What can a company do to stop or mitigate the cyber risk exposure impacting brand safety or fraudulent impressions and related costs?
SH: The best solution is to hire a third party verification company to know where your ads are ending up and whether the impressions are real. Be sure to hire a company that is native to the market for the most efficient and effective service.
We want to thank Mr. Zhang and Ms. Han for their expertise and input into this unique cyber risk issue. Many corporate risk managers are very concerned about protecting their corporate brand, including their online presence, and so it only makes sense that extra vigilance is needed to better manage their increasingly digital marketing efforts.