News & Insights

Adalytics Report & Colossus SSP Claims: Questions for Advertisers, Agency & Ad Verification Partners

Colossus is a certified minority owned SSP that advertisers typically use to target minority audiences, meaning audience accuracy is of particular importance for advertisers. But, the latest report released by Adalytics claims that Colossus SSP has been mis-declaring User IDs in programmatic bid requests.

Adalytics claims that the “user ID declared to the DSP at ad auction time was markedly different from the actual user ID stored in user’s Chrome browser cookie storage”. Simply put, the report claims that Colossus was duplicating the best cookie IDs of sites in its network to impersonate different audiences.

This means advertisers will potentially pay a premium for users that don’t fit the profile of the audience they’re trying to reach – and delivering a higher frequency than planned for some users. This makes effective reach and frequency management, foundations of media planning and buying best practices, more challenging.

The issue Adalytics claim to have identified is classified as a form of Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) by the Media Ratings Council (MRC). MRC accredits ad verification platforms to have these capabilities. Advertisers and agencies therefore rely on this technology to spot and report on the issue, to enable them to act.

This raises a broader question of why this issue has been identified by Adalytics, and not the ad tech platforms that partner with advertisers for best practice.

What Should Advertisers Do?

Before taking any action, advertisers should consider that, whilst the claims by Adalytics are well substantiated in the full report, Colossus has filed a lawsuit against Adalytics claiming that “these false and misleading statements were made in an effort to damage Colossus SSP’s business and reputation for the purpose of selling Adalytics’ services and winning new business from ad buyers.”

Further, as Colossus SSP can form an integral part of an advertisers ability to reach minority audiences and deliver DEI initiatives, any decisions need to be carefully considered.

Because this is a technical issue, there is a risk this is left to be resolved by programmatic and ad tech specialists. But the claims Adalytics have raised need to be addressed or conversed by procurement and media alike:

  • “Are we confident we’re paying the right price to reach the right user?”
  • “Do we understand our supply path?”
  • “Is our technology doing what we pay for it to do?”

We’ve suggested a short set of questions for advertisers to ask internally and of their partners to gain clarity on these topics.

Questions to Ask Internally:

  • How well do we understand our media supply chain? For example, can we say with confidence which SSPs we have bought media from in the last 6 months?
  • If so, do we know why each SSP is in the supply path and, in turn, the consequences of adjusting the mix?

If not, responding to reports like these calmly and efficiently will remain a challenge.

Questions to Ask Your Media Agency:

  • Have we spent on Colossus SSP in the last 6 months? If so, how much?
  • What inventory (sites and apps, and placements on those sites and apps) did we buy? Can we source this inventory through a different SSP for a similar price?

Questions to Ask your Ad Verification Partner(s):

  • The issue Adalytics claim to have identified is classified as a form of Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) by the Media Ratings Council. Does your platform identify and report on this issue?
  • If not, what is the plan to integrate these capabilities?

To discuss the impact of your media effectiveness, talk to our team.

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