The Trade Desk and White Ops Are Teaming Up to Block Bot Traffic Before Advertisers Buy It

The companies think it's 'a game-changer'

Two notable industry players on the digital media scene have established a potentially important relationship to block bot traffic. Sources: Getty Images
Headshot of Christopher Heine

When ad fraud is discovered after a digital campaign, there’s often a potentially complicated back-and-forth that follows about to what extent the buyer was victimized and how much credit needs to be issued. The Trade Desk, a demand-side platform (DSP) utilized by advertising holding companies such as Omnicom and WPP, is teaming with bots-detection player White Ops to try to rid the industry of such uncomfortable exchanges.

Starting Oct. 1, when programmatic ad buys are ordered via The Trade Desk, bots and other non-human “viewership” will be, if all goes according to plan, eliminated from the inventory offered by supply-side platforms (SSPs). And this capability will come by way of White Ops’ Human Verification program.

In recent months, there’s reportedly been a lot of friction between DSPs and SSPs—the latter category includes names like AppNexus, PubMatic and OpenX—about SSPs improving ad inventory, among other issues. So, it will be interesting to watch The Trade Desk-White Ops endeavor.

“The only people who will be rationally resistant are those who [purposefully administer] fraud or benefit indirectly,” remarked The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green, who called the initiative “a game-changer.” He said agency partners and brands weighed in to help create the offering, which will be priced per unit based on the volume purchased.

White Ops’ Human Verification system will scan ad impressions globally, as the two companies will employ servers and data centers in North America, Europe and Asia to audit biddable inventory. When a non-human impression is flagged by White Ops, its program is designed to block the inventory before it gets purchased. The Trade Desk users, which includes big brands like Procter & Gamble, will then have access to real-time data about the blocked inventory.

Perhaps more than anything, the Human Verification-anchored partnership gives The Trade Desk clients a specific program to utilize for anti-fraud and brand-safety measures, and it apparently can be overlaid across programmatic systems and, as Green put it, “run on everything.”

According to various research reports, the brand marketing ecosystem loses billions of dollars a year due to ad fraud.

“The industry can actually come together to fight fraud,” added Sandeep Swadia, White Ops CEO. “Ad spend doesn’t go away—it just gets redirected.”

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.