Google Play Store URLs Create Challenges for Brand Safety on EBDA Opportunities

ownerIQ recently identified and reported an issue to Google that we wanted to communicate out as a general PSA to peers and advertisers buying programmatically so they are aware.

Specifically the issue in Google’s header bidding alternative, called exchange bidding dynamic allocation (EBDA) results in a brand safety risk for advertisers across at least 6 different ad exchanges.

Specifically, ad opportunities in the mobile web environment are being sent through at least some of the time in a bid request with a URL like  “https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.facebook.katana” when in fact the ad will run as a display ad on a website like www.thequiz.com.  Any ad campaign that has thequiz.com on their blacklist or is buying on a specific whitelist including Google will consider the ad opportunity valid when it should be disqualified.

This issue can be identified by comparing the URLs where ads ran as identified by an ad verification company or ad server to the URLs received in bid requests from ad exchanges. To do this match an advertiser or DSP must pass their auction IDs from bid requests into their ad tags and to their ad verification partners so individual events can be matched.  When these don’t align that’s generally referred to as the “transparency gap”.

The issue was reported to Google and we are told this is currently being addressed as a tech error in EBDA and is not the result of domain spoofing/fraud on the part of the Sellers or Publishers.

In the meantime a good short-term idea is for advertisers to blacklist the subdomain play.google.com when buying from exchanges in the mobile web environment.


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