UPDATED W/ VIDEO: To Keep Brands Safe, YuMe Patrols Player Neighborhoods

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video_smallADOTAS – First and foremost, Chief Revenue Officer Scot McLernon declares, YuMe is a technology company — and innovation that assists advertisers is imperative to its mission. Advertisers’ top concern may be getting the right ad in front of the right person at the right time, “But we also need to be sure ad is place in best environment possible,” he notes. “One that’s clean, well-lit and safe.”

For video publishers, syndication is a fantastic way to increase a pub’s reach — and greater reach begets more views, which begets more ad requests, which begets greater revenue. However, syndication also presents a higher risk that the player will end up surrounded by inappropriate or offensive content.

Thus the introduction of YuMe’s Brand Security offering on the ACE platform, which can determine the content around an embedded syndicated video player when it requests an ad, with or without an accompanying banner, and block it. The domain detection technology is integrated into all of its partner publishers’ video players through an SDK and offers a comprehensive view of a player’s environment.

Similar to a credit score, YuMe’s syndication quality score is not only based on the performance of ads in publishers’ players, but the number of requests that show up from inappropriate domains. The technology can make distinctions at the sub-domain level — for example, a social network may show up in the white, but an inappropriate URL within could land in the black.

In addition to the black list, which currently hosts 1.5 million nogoodnik sites accumulated over the past 2 months, YuMe keeps up a white list with approved sites and a gray list of unknowns, which the humans at YuMe manually review and assign to one or the other.

“We look at the white and black lists very similar to antivirus software,” McLernon says, as the lists grow larger by the day. “The black list could be as big as 1.6 or 1.7 million in a week or two.”

George P. O’Brien, marketing manager, chimes in that YuMe only works with premium pubs. “Our position is we don’t work with any publishers whose own sites or video content would end up on a black list like this,” he notes. “It’s just that if we don’t trust the neighborhoods your player is showing up in… we’re not going to send you guys your fair share of ads if you were keeping better company.”

As many networks integrate ad verification companies, YuMe realized that its home-grown technology, four years in the developing, could be built out to offer brand safety capabilities. Ad verifiers have good technology and YuMe is happy to partner with them, but there are gaps in the services, especially since they were designed with display in mind, not video. In particular, when a video ad runs without an accompanying companion banner, typically ad verifiers don’t register the video-only impression.

McLernon argues that ad verifiers cannot offer the same level of security as YuMe’s SDK , which has been integrated into video players and evolving over the past four years. Also, YuMe’s service is proactive, while most ad verifiers report bad locales post-serving.

“We think this is a real distinction between another network only using an ad verification company,” O’Brien comments. “This is an added value you get with YuMe, a pretty important one.”

McLernon nods: “While nothing is 100% foolproof, we feel this is as close as it comes.”

McLernon may be the new kid to YuMe but he’s an old hand when it comes to the online world. As sales team leader for CBS’ Marketwatch, his team recorded the highest revenue per sales team member four years in a row and earned an ASPY for Best Overall Sales Team on the web.

Effortlessly cool, with a million-dollar smile reminiscent of James Caan (I’m surprised I didn’t slip and call him “Sonny” at some point), McLernon eked out some time to chat before cohosting an online video roundtable with Beet.TV that included a “star-studded cast” — representatives from MSNBC.com, Digitas and ComScore were on hand among others.

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