OpenX has announced today that it will begin blocking the sale of “bad” video ad formats from its exchange, including the 300×250 format, which it says provide a bad user experience and are harmful for brands and publishers. The company says it’s targeting the 300×250 format specifically due to its use in ad fraud, but other as-yet-unnamed formats will also be blocked.
OpenX says that 300×250 video ads are one of the most commonly sold video ad units on its exchange, and it accounts for over 30 percent of all video sold programmatically according to a Pixalate study.
However the company sees the format as problematic since it is not well suited for video, meaning ads are often squashed into too small a space, making for a poor user experience. OpenX says the majority of 300×250 ads are in-banner video (IBV), a format which OpenX’s head of marketplace quality Johh Murphy says “needs to be stopped in its tracks.” The 300×250 ad unit, commonly known as ‘MPU’s’, were originally intended for display advertising.
Part of the reason OpenX is so against IBV is because of its high invalid traffic rates, which the Pixalate study found to be twice the average of all programmatic video ads sold today. But the company claims too that IBV is used for ad fraud by arbitrageurs and ad network resellers.
The company claims that bad actors buy display inventory from publishers, but then resell them as video ad units, allowing them to charge higher CPMs to advertisers. The advertiser then delivers a video ad which is not suited for the 300×250 format but is shoehorned into a static banner ad space nonetheless. This hurts publishers since the ads they run perform poorly, create a poor user experience, and also means brands are overcharged and misled about the inventory they’re buying.
OpenX CRO and co-founder Jason Fairchild sees this new initiative as sitting alongside ads.txt and TAG certification as necessary steps which must be taken to fight ad fraud. “Quality is a choice. Whether it is choosing to only work with TAG certified companies, or limiting ad buys to ads.txt approved partners, or, as in the case of video, choosing to work with partners that will put the interests of the entire ecosystem above short-term gain, we must expect every player in digital advertising to make quality and value central pillars of their business,” he said.
His is not the first company to point out IBV’s shortcomings. DoubleClick Ad Exchange for example blocks sale of IBV inventory except in cases where the publisher has specifically opted in to run IBV ads.