Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA meets Nick Reid of DoubleVerify

New Digital Age (NDA) recently spoke to Nick Reid, DoubleVerify’s SVP and Managing Director EMEA, about the latest trends in the digital advertising and media buying industry and the increasing importance of verification to marketers…

NDA: What are the big priorities for your organisation this year?

Nick Reid: Our focus is to develop breakthrough media quality and performance solutions that enhance digital transparency, foster ecosystem trust and deliver better outcomes for brands and their Agencies. Innovation and growth are concentrated on two key areas: measuring and optimising media to achieve quality and providing data sets that are correlated with campaign performance. 

DV is well-known for its media quality capabilities, pioneering brand safety as far back as 2008. Central to our capabilities is the DV Authentic AdTM, a proprietary, accredited metric that ensures an ad collectively meets core quality criteria: it has had the opportunity to be seen, in a brand suitable environment, by a real person, in the intended geography. Many top brands use this metric as a definitive measure and currency for media quality. 

Our objective when it comes to media verification, DV’s product strategy is to verify everywhere – on all platforms, devices, formats and media buying platforms – globally. As such, innovation centres on new platforms and formats, including CTV, social media and UGC content. 

Core verification speaks to media quality. And quality, it’s important to note, is a measure of an ad’s potential to perform – it sets a baseline for impressions that qualify for purchase. But actual ad performance is a function of additional variables, like ad creative/relevancy and how good the page or app environment is at maximising the impact of the ad and encouraging user engagement – which drives brand awareness/favorability and conversions.

DV is leading the industry and shifting the scope of verification from media quality, to predictive media performance. This lets us increase our competitive lead and deliver value that is perfectly aligned with why brands advertise in the first place. We call this DV Authentic AttentionTM. Attention builds on DV’s Authentic AdTM, leveraging over 50 data points to provide deep impression-level insights that are actionable across marketing goals, all using a privacy-safe methodology. Data falls within two cohorts – we call these exposure (quality of ad presentation) and engagement (measure of actual user interaction).  And we report these metrics in the form of indices, providing brands with tactical optimization opportunities. 

This is a paradigm shift for verification – moving from quality measurement to predictive performance that’s privacy-friendly to boot.

What are the biggest issues your clients/customers are facing at the moment?

Some of the key challenges facing advertisers today are around trust and transparency, especially as it relates to misinformation and deliberate disinformation. Ensuring brand safety and suitability can be complicated, especially in a fast-evolving news cycle. This challenge extends to walled garden and UGC environments, where measurement and evaluation is more difficult due to the dynamic nature of content development.

Deprecation of cookies is another key challenge. Until recently, many advertisers looked to third-party audience data for precise targeting and measurement across their ad campaigns. But, the landscape is changing. Data shows the vast majority of consumers are increasingly concerned about their privacy, and how their data can be used.

Moreover, stringent data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, and the decision by most web browsers to sunset the use of third-party cookies, are ushering a universal shift away from third-party audience targeting.

So, what’s a brand to do? For DV, product innovation around solutions that are both privacy-safe on one hand AND offer precise forms of measurement and optimization on the other, has been a top priority. Examples of privacy-friendly DV performance solutions include Attention and Contextual Targeting, for example.

Are your customers/partners prepared for the ‘cookieless’ marketing era?

DV is constantly evaluating real-world market signals to help understand what will be the driver of the next disruptive trend, to best help our customers. We anticipated the shift away from cookie-based solutions toward attention as the new digital ad currency many years ago, which is why we developed DV Authentic Attention™. It provides privacy-friendly, cookie-free insights into all elements of consumer attention, from the impact of an ad’s presentation to the key dimensions of consumer engagement. By using a solution that analyses the ad itself and its surrounding environment, our customers get granular, privacy-friendly detail into performance—which is essential for every brand to optimise their ads as we move into the cookieless era.

Are there any lingering after-effects of the pandemic still influencing your marketplace?

Thanks in part to many months spent at home during the pandemic, consumption habits have fundamentally shifted. As consumers are increasingly using digital channels for everything from shopping to reading the news, they’re being bombarded by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of digital ads every day. 

Channels that saw increased consumer engagement during the pandemic include social and CTV – with increased news and streaming content consumption.

It’s never been more important – or more difficult – to stand out from the crowd. This is why attention measurement is vital. It fills the gap between knowing an ad has simply been seen and understanding how it was registered by an individual. With that insight, we can plan, buy, and measure campaigns better than ever before, and avoid ad-fatigue in a saturated market. 

As ever, in challenging times, businesses are forced to make tough choices, often accelerating decisions, or creating the need to pivot from previously constructed paths. We have seen many business do exactly that and in a way which has driven significant success. We have also seen an increased sense of “self awareness” not just of Brands, but of the industry as a whole. This manifests itself in many ways, but the increased recognition of Social responsibility after what has been a challenging time, is a positive sign.

Are there any other noteworthy trends in your marketplace right now?

There are many, but one that is pertinent is the shifting relationship between misinformation, disinformation and brand safety. Over the last few years, advertisers have had the challenge of protecting their brands against a backdrop of a turbulent news cycle. In many markets this looks set to continue, with the cost of living crisis and political rhetoric dominating headlines. As news cycles continue to evolve, advertisers need technology that can help them navigate sensitive topics, avoid misinformation and disinformation, and protect their brand reputation at scale. 

From a personal perspective, is advertising getting better or worse?

Better. While it’s been a disruptive few years, the outlook for the advertising industry is promising. For the digital ad industry, breaking dependence on the third-party cookie sounded daunting at first, but it’s actually opening up huge opportunities to improve our sector for brands and consumers alike. We have to an extent let the consumer down in the past through over exposure, rather than delivering them the personalised experience which was relevant and wanted   

New methods of driving advertising outcomes, including the shift to attention metrics and techniques like contextual targeting that drive more relevant ad placements, are empowering brands to be innovative while enhancing privacy standards. Engaging customers in moments that matter to them, creating personalised and meaningful experiences and the ability to measure and track campaigns will all be fundamental to this new evolution of advertising.

DoubleVerify – or DV – is a software platform for digital media measurement and analytics. Its mission is to make the digital advertising ecosystem stronger, safer and more secure, preserving the fair value exchange between buyers and sellers of digital media. Hundreds of Fortune 500 advertisers employ DV’s data and analytics to to maximise return on their digital advertising investments.