Yearly global internet advertising spending has never been this high, with search advertising spending reaching a whopping $104.8 billion in 2019.
Nowadays, a business can’t do without having a digital ad strategy in place. The potential financial gains are tremendous, but it does require hard work and putting many checks in place. Created ads need to be tweaked and optimized, and budgets have to be selected carefully.
And one always has to ensure that suitable ads reach the right customers in the right place. An ad from a car brand in China, for example, shouldn’t be displayed to a kid visiting a toy shop’s website in the US.
To ensure ads are displayed on the right websites to reach the right audiences, people use scraping techniques for ad verification. But how does this work, and how can one utilize this for their own business?
That’s what we’ll answer in this short article about scraping for ad verification. Ready to find out?
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What is ad verification?
Digital ads can be displayed on any website, whether in the search engine results pages (SERPs) of a search engine, such as Google or Bing or on a news organization’s website.
When creating ads, for example, through Google Ads, one can’t fully specify or know where their ads might be displayed. Yes, one can adjust the settings to filter who will see the ads, for example, through specific geographical locations or the device used. But this is not always 100% foolproof.
And in recent years, ad fraudsters have entered the scene with fake websites to capitalize on the booming digital advertising industry. These websites contain content copied from other sites but act as a legitimate publisher page to display an advertiser’s ad and earn from their advertising budget.
So to ensure correct ad placement and to prevent money loss, advertisers have started hiring ad verification companies who use web scraping techniques to verify that the ads are appearing where they are meant to appear.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping, otherwise known as data scraping or web harvesting, is the practice of automatically gathering data from a website using a robot.
This robot, also called a web crawler, visits a URL and extracts all the information (or part of the information, depending on how the robot is written). The extracted data is then parsed, changing into a more accessible format for humans to understand, and exported into a local database or spreadsheet.
The benefit of automated web scraping, compared to simply visiting the URL and exporting the information manually, is that a web crawler can visit thousands of URLs and extract a wealth of data in a matter of minutes where it would take human days if not weeks.
Using web scraping for ad verification
By scraping websites that host ads, one can analyze how the ads are displayed and identify any potential malicious intent or otherwise incorrect placement.
Although one can create their web scraper to crawl sites and verify ads, the work is generally done by professional ad verification companies. Well-known ad verification companies include DoubleVerify, Moat (part of Oracle), Integral Ad Science (IAS), CHEQ, and White Ops.
These companies will locate where your ads are being displayed, analyze if the placement is in line with what you want, and ensure there is no fraudulent activity.
The number of ad fraud techniques has been growing steadily over the years, with some more common examples including:
- Making an ad invisible or hidden while impression will still be reported
- Ad replacement or ad hijacking, during which the fraudster hijacks the ad slot and replaces it with another ad
- Ad click hijacking, during which the fraudster hijacks users who click on an ad and directs them to a different website
And aside from intended harmful activities like this, there is still the chance that one’s ad might appear on a website the advertiser doesn’t want to be associated with.
For example, an ad might appear on a website with adult material or violent videos or a site that spreads a certain ideology that goes against the values of the advertiser.
In all such cases, web scraping techniques can help with ad verification to counter such fraudulent activities.
If your company specializes in ad verification and you’re looking for a reliable solution to scrape Google Ads data, try SERPMaster – it delivers paid Google SERP result data based on your submitted request. You can choose location, device, and browser settings to get the accurate data needed.
Check out: Best Facebook Advertising Tools For 2021