We aim to double down on innovation and partner with more platforms to make internet a safe space: Saurabh Khattar of IAS

In an exclusive interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Khattar, Country Manager- India, Integral Ad Science (IAS), stated that there is a lot of knowledge and education required for brands in India owing to the evolving nature of ad verification, ad frauds, viewability and brand safety

Shreya Negi
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We aim to double down on innovation and partner with more platforms to make internet a safe space: Saurabh Khattar of IAS

Saurabh Khattar

With the emergence and rapidly increasing popularity of digital mediums, in the aftermath of the pandemic, brands are also facing an incremental risk from fraudsters who have the ability to eat almost 50% of the brand’s ad spends as per Saurabh Khattar, Country Manager Integral Ad Science.

While interacting to BestMediaInfo.com, he also mentioned that brands have also begun implementing ad verification on the base level first, right on their campaigns, which are being carried out on social media and on open web both and owing to this, there has been tremendous growth within the programmatic environment as brands have begun allocating their budgets on programmatic advertising.

“That’s why we are working very closely for programmatic solutions that allow advertisers to bid on their impressions and apply particular filters of ad fraud, brand safety and viewability before bidding on the impressions so that they only bid on the high quality media impressions,” he stated.

Commenting as to how has the year gone by fared out for Integral Ad Science, Khattar emphasised that 2022 was good for the company that caters to digital ad verification in terms of business, clients and partners along with innovations.

“In terms of innovation, we were the first ones in the market to begin measurement on new channels like audio, gaming, CTV, etc. We foresee the same thing continuing in 2023 and aim to double down on these innovations this year as well,” he said.

He also went on to add that it was in lieu of this that Integral Ad Science partnered with Pandora to measure audibility (Audio ad measurement) and invalid traffic (IVT) on Pandora; with Spotify to establish third-party brand safety solutions for advertisers on Podcasts; with GADSME to verify  its ad inventory globally and provide marketers with third-party viewability and IVT through IAS Signal platform; with Anzu in the in-game advertising segment to enable global brands and agencies to effectively monitor the quality of their in-game media investments in mobile gaming environments and provide advertisers with Invalid Traffic (IVT) measurement and reports on Viewability; Netflix for its upcoming ad-supported business on CTV.

Having said that, Khattar also emphasised that unlike the international markets, India still requires a lot of education around the aforementioned new channels which is why Integral Ad Science will continue to educate the industry at large through various round table discussions and events.

“We have tied up with UM Worldwide as the agency for our partnership with Spotify, and it is already in the testing phase as we are still having a lot of learnings therein, but we are doing brand safety and audio quality for podcasts as a third-party brand safety solutions provider for podcast advertisers. As part of the partnership, we’re looking at future proofing the technology by doing a frame by frame analysis for audio in terms of brand safety and suitability to aid in campaign planning, management and reporting; wherein we’re using our patented technology to try and understand the safety of each and every frame- which involves converting the audio into text to determine if there is any obscenity or profanity for that particular text for contextual advertising,” he elaborated.

Furthermore, Khattar also highlighted that with many of the traditional brands increasingly  moving towards digital mediums, marketers have understood that the value of digital because the users are moving towards the same, but they still need to know as to how can they have better cost efficiencies and media efficiencies by understanding the quality of various channels and optimising their spends in a better manner.

Expressing his views on the current state of adtech and martech in the country, he also went on to add that the industry has seen an increasing and significant movement of ad-budgets towards digital mediums especially after the pandemic because a lot of consumers began spending more time on internet and mobile in addition to Connected TVs which is why brands also began to follow the same.

“This is going to continue with the 5G rollout as well because with the increase in the number of smartphone users, the speeds are also going to increase accompanied by the lowering on costs like data rates for 4G and 3G. The emergence of new and faster applications and mobile penetration is already increasing in India which will only be boosted further by the 5G technology,” he added.

Khattar also went on to add that because the digital ecosystem is on a constant incline in the country, there are a lot of unethical players, like fraudsters, in the market who are following the lead and gaining from the new age applications and mediums such as social media, audio platforms, CTV etc.

“With this incremental spike in ad frauds, brand awareness is also increasing among marketers as they’re also looking at spending more time on combating issues pertaining to viewability, attention, etc. in order to take care of the qualitative aspects and ensure that they make the most out of spending their money towards new channels and applications or anything in the Open Web,” he stated.

Upon being questioned as to how Integral Ad Science aims to cater to programmatic advertising, he replied that another big challenge for brands who resort to programmatic ads is privacy concerns, especially because in the post cookie demise world, contextual targeting and contextual avoidance or context technology in itself would gain more prominence and become one of the solutions for the cookie-less world, he said.

“We have a cognitive semantic technology that uses natural language processing to understand the page in terms of grammar, nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. just like a human brain but with the speed of a machine. Therefore, it goes through the page and understands the meaning of the page associated with different sentences as well in merely few seconds and understand if the page is talking in a positive manner, negative manner or a neutral manner so that we can help brands target in a much more efficient in a better manner,” explained Khattar.

It is also to be noted that Integral Ad Science had recently entered into a partnership with the micro blogging platform, Twitter, to provide advertisers brand safety and suitability measurement.

Having said that, Khattar also went on to highlight that the primary goal or vision of Integral Ad Science has been to make the internet a safer place which is why the company eyes striking partnerships with new channels so that the advertisers are in a safe environment.

“Twitter has been a good partner to us since a long time and we already had an ad fraud and viewability partnership with them but recently we had struck a Tweet-level partnership wherein we ensure that the content of the advertisers in a safe environment wherein the adjacent content, herein Tweets, are safe for the brands,” he added.

Furthermore, Khattar also went on to point out that because cost efficiency and media efficiency is becoming increasingly important for brands in the current time frame, the advertisers are looking for measurement solutions wherein they can understand not just the quantitative factors like number of impressions, clicks, shares, reshares, likes etc. but also qualitative factors like the attention of an ad, the time-in-view of the ad, its viewability score on particular domains or media channels, etc. which is essential for optimising campaigns.

“We’re also foreseeing that, in 2023, there will be more momentum for the advertisers to ask media planners and buyers and platforms like us as to what is the carbon footprint on their campaigns from a sustainability angle. This is precisely why we have also partnered with Good Loop to apprise the marketers of their carbon footprint for particular campaigns and to be able to give them that exposure as it is becoming a bigger conversation, especially in the leading markets,” he emphasised.

As per Khattar, CTV as a channel has grown immensely in the past two years owing to the nationwide lockdowns imposed as a preventive measure during the pandemic. Therefore, Integral Ad Science has also devised solutions to detect ad frauds on the medium itself in terms of what is the amount of ad fraud that’s happening on CTVs, the types of ad frauds, where the ad fraud is actually coming from, etc.

“We give all the insights and data through our dashboard to all our clients and give them a complete analysis to help them understand what is the quality of their media on CTV as well,” he added.

Throwing light on some of the many ad frauds that are taking place on CTV in the modern day and age, Khattar shared an example of SSAI wherein the ad gets inserted as part of content that is being displayed on the medium accompanied by OTT or mobile devices that are manipulating to be CTV so that they can gain more money.

“One of the other examples of ad fraud on CTV would be that when the CTV is off, the ad is still running in the background,” he added.

Upon being questioned as to how can brands carry out their in-game ads in a brand safe environment on gaming platforms, he also replied that taking the case of gaming platforms that allow ad-integrations into the game itself, the trend is already prevalent in the leading markets and is slowly picking pace in India as well because the user time spent on such platforms is extremely high.

“There can be different types of brand safety issues on such gaming platforms like the game category is 13+ or 20+ years owing to violence, ammunitions, adult content, etc. which is why the brands need to be extremely careful in spending their money on programmatic ads on the gaming platforms as they’re considered to be more efficient and effective,” he stated.


Twitter CTV innovation Integral Ad Science brand safety Brand Marketing digital mediums Ad fraud Saurabh Khattar ad viewability qualitative aspects programmatic ads ad verification