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Pitfalls for publishers using ad networks?

How big a hole is there in Internet advertising for the publisher? How does the publisher audit the advertising that gets placed with their content?  There are plenty of companies focused on providing auditing services for the advertiser – detecting click fraud, verifying ad impressions etc. but seemingly few focused on the publisher.

When a publisher uses one or more ad networks to provide advertising with their content, how do they know that the payments they receive are correct?  Many may choose to trust the statistics provided to them via the ad network but do they really have a basis for trust?

A side benefit of writing a blog is that it offers a platform to try out different things and see how they work.  You can see a number of VC bloggers use this to learn more about what works (or doesn't) – for example, Fred Wilson's sidebars full of "bling" – not just to dress up a blog but to see how people interact and respond to different trends.  It's like having your own living laboratory!

I decided to use this post as an experiment to see how the stats I get from the different ad networks correlate with delivered impressions.  Since a lot of impressions get delivered via RSS feeds, there is a limit to how you can track and verify impressions.  This post has a transparent embedded 1 pixel image that gets served from a server where I have access to the logs.  Hopefully (!) the image will be downloaded by the different feed readers and browsers and I'll be able to track the impressions and compare them against the stats from the ad networks.

I'll post what I find in a few days!

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STU PHILLIPS
MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA

Intense Brit, lived in Silicon Valley since 1984. Avid pilot, like digital photography, ham radio and a bunch of other stuff. Official Geek.

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