Our Terms of Use & Cookie Policy

StackAdapt uses cookies to improve your online experience. Cookies are used to help us better understand where our visitors are coming from, recognize you when you sign in to the platform, or better personalize pages you visit. Cookies are placed on your computer automatically but if you chose to opt out from any tracking, you can change your cookie settings through your browser.


Why We Still Need Humans to Approve Programmatic Ads [Interview]

This is Isabelle. For every campaign you run on the StackAdapt platform, she and a small team of Product Quality Analysts manually audit every ad creative before it is unleashed across the internet, (not to mention spend hours vetting the domains your ads pass through). But why would we still pay humans to focus solely on brand safety and fraud prevention when we already use top of the line technologies like Forensiq and DoubleVerify?

As an ad quality expert, Isabelle points out that while computers can catch technical complexities like resolution and dimensions, they simply can’t (yet) determine the strength or type of reaction a human will have to your advertisement. In this interview, Isabelle breaks down why certain ads don’t make the cut and why compelling creative is so integral to the success of a programmatic ad.

Q: Describe your role as a Product Quality Analyst

IB: The QA team is responsible for ensuring all the sites, ad campaigns, and creatives that flow through our platform are top notch and are given the StackAdapt seal of approval.

First, we make sure they’re compliant with our content guidelines: no funny business (violence/pornography/spam)! But beyond that, we see to it that every advertisement we distribute is engaging and inspiring to consumers. This is about brand safety, fraud prevention, and optimizing every campaign launched on our watch.

We’re constantly growing our inventory of domains that we can serve ads on. At the moment are our ads are served across over 50,000 publishers and we’re only expanding.

This role is also great because we get to be innovative as well. I really love collaborating with the tech team on joint projects and being apart of the evolution of advertising technology.

Q: How many ads have you audited since you began your role as Product Quality Analyst?

IB: Wow, big question! Upwards of 6,000, I suppose. So, after looking at so many creatives, I’ve developed an eye for whats going to perform and what will be, unfortunately, passed over.

Q: Can you describe the process of auditing ads? What are you looking for?

IB: Once a client submits an ad, it comes through our internal database to be reviewed before it can be set live. From here, we ensure all the elements of that ad are properly implemented. Everything from the landing page, to the engagement tracking tags, to the body text, to the creative.

Lately, I’ve placed a heavy emphasis on the creative being extra compelling, because the image is responsible for making an extraordinary first impression. Visuals are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, so it’s absolutely necessary that they use this critical moment to make a positive and relatable statement.

Q: What is the purpose of having you manually audit every creative?

IB: The experience of the human eye processing an image is just that—uniquely human. A computer can detect so many complexities like resolution and text and dimensions and pixels, but it won’t be able to consistently and reliably replicate the cognitive intricacies and emotional processes people experience when they look at an image. That’s probably the biggest reason why manually looking at each creative is important.

Text is also an important element we look out for. Part of our job is keeping costs down for our clients, and we’ve seen lower CPC when text overlays are absent.

I think people want to insert as much information in the creative as possible but text is detrimental. It won’t compete with other really captivating images and, in the case of a native advertisement, won’t look native at all.

Q: What are the most common reasons ad creatives are rejected?

IB: Issues we commonly face include images that are:

  • Blurry
  • Pixelated
  • Confusing
  • Irrelevant
  • Lots of text overlay

Q: How can media buyers avoid these issues?

IB: Let me spell out the ideal ad creative:

  • High resolution.
  • Text free.
  • Vibrant & memorable.
  • Good aesthetics: light, composition, etc.
  • Employs colour psychology depending on the product/brand.
  • Relatable to audience (people).
  • Relevant, image should enhance your message.
  • Highlight the benefits and solutions your product/service offers.

Q: Can you give us an example of a poor quality image vs. a star quality image?

IB: Let’s just say you’re a travel brand, and your ad is “Top 10 Things to Do in NYC”:

Option A:

Reasons this ad would be rejected:

  1. Distorted
  2. Almost 50% text
  3. Vague landscape

Option B:

Reasons why this ad would be a better choice:

  1. No text
  2. Represents an iconic landmark (Times Square)
  3. Quality is clear

You may also like: