One idea, countless battles: Coull’s journey against fraud

Born out of the vibrant streets of Bristol, Coull has always had creativity at the heart of the business.

Born out of the vibrant streets of Bristol, Coull has always had creativity at the heart of the business. Coull’s founders had a vision of making online video advertising an engaging and interactive experience. The idea was brewing away in the background since 2005, but the online video world was still growing and adapting. High speed internet hadn’t appeared and many different video formats made things more complicated.

Skip forward a few years to 2007, YouTube had grown to over 50 million users and high speed internet had arrived. Families were able to watch a cat play a piano, a dog surfing and someone biting Charlie’s finger, from the comfort of their own homes. It was revolutionary and people couldn’t get enough. The popularity of video content shot up and the creators wanted a way to profit from it.

Cue Coull. 2008 was our founding year and although we’ve come a long way since then, it was always about our love affair with video.

Programmatic arrived like a whirlwind in 2013. By connecting everyone and allowing quicker, more efficient sales, it sounded like a dream. Caught up in the vortex of the programmatic online world, Coull started out with an ad network model. We were integrating with leading programmatic platforms to enable delivery of interest-based, targeted advertising at a global scale.

All of the innovations emerging from the humble office in Bristol were exciting, but there was one big problem with the online advertising industry: fraud. The colossal speed at which the digital world had developed meant that regulation of crime, particularly ad fraud, couldn’t keep up.

But Coull were prepared. We were producing our own in house anti-fraud technology in the background for some time, such as: domain and IP filters, URL detection and implementing the IAB’s VPAID specification.

As anticipated, the talk about fraud in the media increased and some shocking figures flagged up. Behind the scenes, fraudsters had been on a crime shopping spree and cost the industry billions each year.

We quickly realised that, although ad networks were great for connecting us, the business model was a doomed one. It was undifferentiated, commoditised and arbitraged inventory, combined with a justifiable loss of trust from buyers resulting in an inevitable race to the bottom. More importantly, it didn’t represent our original vision to be unique and think outside the box.

First and foremost, at Coull we pride ourselves on being a technology company. We have a dedicated team, many of whom are developers, and a fresh minded approach, that has lead to building and launching the Coull Platform. Our Platform consists of the Coull SSP, Coull Exchange and distinct Coull advertising formats, which are all self-built to fit Coull’s vision.

With us, publishers can earn revenue without spamming their content, advertisers can benefit from effective formats and users don’t get overloaded by ads. Not only this, but we’ve learnt from our experiences and we have a very comprehensive compliance process paired with a strong company ethos on combatting fraud.

We’ve invested in and improved our proprietary technology to ensure anti-fraud and brand safety. Applying our technology, we have a dedicated compliance team and partnerships with industry leading verification vendors. Using their audit results, our true URL detection product and IP filters, we can effectively fight domain spoofing, bot fraud and build trust between our partners.

But we aren’t stopping there. Viewability is of paramount importance. We currently measure viewability through our partners, but we have additional plans to improve our business. Using our technology expertise, in combination with our measurement partners, we expect to build our own viewable inventory marketplaces.

Unfortunately, the internet won’t ever be fraud free. Even recently, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) estimate that ad fraud is likely to exceed $50 billion by 2025. Much like a game of whack-a-mole, as soon as one source of fraud is stamped out, another three pop up. But by having our own technology and platform, regulation is a lot simpler for us and being transparent with partners is easier.

After nine years of a bumpy rollercoaster ride in the online advertising industry, we’re now proud to say we’ve come a long way, keeping our founder’s vision alive and continuing to aspire. We have a strong ethos on fraud and are always trying to be transparent, educate and work together with partners so no one has to tackle fraud alone.

If you want to find out more about Coull’s fraud fighting technology and our high performance products, talk to our team.

Coull's ethos.jpg

 

Posted by Naomi Sandercock

Marketing Executive at Coull