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Why Quality Assurance is Critical for Domain and Application Whitelisting

Oct 30, 2020

Successful Domain and Application Whitelists are Rooted in Quality Assurance

For successful domain and application whitelisting, programmatic advertising companies need to factor a strong quality assurance standard into their operations. To many, this may seem obvious, but this crucial element of the client experience is often overlooked. 

Sure, there are plenty of brand safety integrations you can incorporate to help automate scanning traffic for IVT, bots, etc. However, these solutions are the industry standard for agencies in the programmatic display space. Beyond them, the true value lies in having a team of human analysts further examine results to guarantee quality traffic. 

Conduit Digital’s programmatic team’s quality assurance process combines curated automation solutions with human expertise to guarantee deliverables that exceed expectations. This drive to produce work that meets our standards led us to create one of our favorite custom deliverables for clients: manually vetted whitelists that align with specific verticals. 

Domain and Application Whitelisting: Conduit Style

Because we run campaigns that cover almost every vertical, we established a process to maintain consistent quality of results, no matter the client. To do this, our team has invested a great deal of time, effort, and brainpower to make this reality. 

This process involved spending 648 combined hours manually vetting 13,000 domains and applications as part of our major whitelisting quality assurance initiative last year. This massive undertaking resulted in a unique cross-sector knowledge base that can be deployed for any project. And yes, we still manually update our lists on an ongoing basis. 

If you have the ability to invest team members’ efforts into doing something similar, we recommend it one hundred percent. It requires a client-first mentality, a drive to produce deliverables that exceed expectations, and maybe a few extra cups of coffee when you hit hour-12. 

What is a Whitelist? 

A whitelist is a list of approved domains that a client or advertising operations analyst uses to serve ads to target audiences. Maintaining high-quality whitelists puts the campaign manager in the driver’s seat when it comes time to execute a campaign. 

How? Instead of casting a wide net with ambiguous returns, a quality whitelist grants the ability to hone in on specific audiences based on the websites they visit. 

However, not all whitelists are created equal. There are many services online that offer generic, prepackaged whitelists. These are not customized to your clients’ needs. Cheap whitelists are cheap for a reason. 

Generic whitelists create the appearance of far-reaching ads across many properties. In this case, though, many simply are for show and generate minimal returns on the money you’ve spent. 

At Conduit Digital, we always recommend that you ensure your domain and application whitelisting strategies align with the verticals your clients serve. This will drastically increase the likelihood that your clients see maximized returns on their investment and that target audiences engage with their brand the way you want them to. 

How Can a Programmatic Advertising Agency Use Whitelists?

Whitelist strategies can be layered onto other tactics that programmatic advertising agencies can use for narrowed, controlled targeting. They can also be used on their own.


Either way, the goal remains the same: Boost your clients’ reach to the most ideal target audiences possible that are already visiting sites relevant to your business. 

Let’s use an example: You have a client that owns an outdoor sporting goods store. They are looking to better promote hunting and fishing gear. Here, you would implement a whitelist of outdoor sports websites with a special focus on hunting and fishing. This will take your reach directly to where qualified buyers are likely spending their time – and their money.

In this case, the goal was to match the client’s ad with the most relevant audience possible. This increases the likelihood of more sales, which boosts ROI, and strengthens your client’s trust in your agency. What agency doesn’t want that? 

How Do I Scrub Domains and Applications for Better Whitelists?

“Scrubbing” encompasses the entire quality assurance process. This requires a team member manually scanning websites and apps to track touchpoints like: 

  • Most importantly – does the site offer space for ad placements? 

  • Is the website legitimate? No one wants to fall into the black hole of serving ads on cluttered clickbait sites. 

  • Does the site offer quality content to visitors? 

  • What vertical(s) does the domain cater to? 

  • What’s the Alexa ranking? Would this be considered a “premium” domain? 

  • If you are thinking of serving ads on an app, read the reviews. Look for complaints about users being spammed with ads. 

  • Is an app you’re considering designed for engagement? For example – does it help the user fall asleep (no eyes on the screen) or does require activity like shopping, social interaction, etc.? 

Though this is just the beginning of an in-depth scrub, it will provide the foundation you need to scale your whitelists up into the thousands. Without this manual element, you may be sorting tons of low-quality domains and apps into your whitelists just because they appear to “fit” your target vertical. 

On occasion, you should also revisit websites and applications that you originally added to your list. Sometimes, these properties change significantly, are bought by new companies that change the ad format, or are discontinued. If they are no longer serving your whitelist strategy, they should be replaced by better destinations. 

The Finished Product: Better Whitelists

Your domain and application whitelisting capabilities are enhanced exponentially once you’ve put a quality assurance process in place that combines automation with expert manual analysis. At the end of an initial scrub, you will have 1+ whitelists per vertical/sub-vertical. This allows for even more brand safety and customization for clients’ campaigns. 

As a byproduct of this, you can even have an updated global blacklist. This way, you can also proactively determine domains and applications to avoid and advise clients away from them. 

The digital marketing industry has become diluted with agencies claiming to have the best solutions in place for the end client. Actually rolling up your sleeves and investing in the process will allow you to have a true perspective on what is unique or valuable to your clients, thus proving why you’re the best. This whitelist project is a great starting point on the road to client satisfaction. 

Integrate Better Domain and Application Whitelisting Into Your Product Offering 

Conduit Digital offers agencies the chance to take advantage of our robust whitelists through our premium turnkey white label services. If you want to take your programmatic display advertising to the next level faster than ever, schedule an agency growth call anytime.









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