Have you ever surfed the internet and came across content with an embedded advertisement that conveyed polar opposite messages? Like a medical website informing its readers on high cholesterol causes and treatments, and the featured advertisement box runs a donuts brand’s special time caramel deluxe flavor? In today’s ever expanding world of digital content, this is sadly commonplace. Publishers pay top dollars to render their advertisements in front of real, qualified consumers, but their advertisement verification system fails them. CHEQ, an Israeli cybersecurity company, uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to learn the nuances of digital content and publishers’ advertisements, prevent advertisement fraud, and even ensure advertisements are viewable by the targeted audience. Here’s a primer on CHEQ, a global AI company that controls the flow and placement of advertisements in today’s digital content world.
CHEQ was founded by Guy Tytunovich, a former captain of unit 8200 and a serial entrepreneur in the digital landscape, co-founding AdZouk and BigaBid. A brief foreshadow of his entrepreneurial pursuits could be embodied by the e-commerce management system he built and sold for $25,000 while still in high school. With years of experience under his belt in the digital advertising space, Guy learned the extent of security and safety in brand advertising, or lack thereof, and grew displeased. Verification solutions lacked transparency, vision and innovation and worst of all, they acted reactively. And as a result, Guy saw the opportunity in the market: preemptive security.
Guy quickly brought brilliant minds on board, like CTO Assaf Botovsky, CPO Yossi Weinreb and CSO Daniel Avital to build a ship capable of navigating the global sea, with his sights set on an ambitious target: revolutionizing mega-brand advertising with Autonomous Brand Safety.
Advertising is at an inflection point, according to Daniel Avital. “Everything is free online today because of advertising. It’s the fuel that allows content to remain free.” But the lack of transparency among advertising security vendors has forced brands to compromise with the offerings and resulted in the mindset of aversion. “Major brands have diverted substantial portions of their budgets back to TV, billboards and print mediums (offline advertising), which is an existential threat to the entire online ecosystem” explained Avital. “Ultimately, the goal is to create a digital advertising ecosystem where advertisers feel safe and in control. This was the goal of CHEQ when it was founded.”
CHEQ proactively protects advertisers interests through a three-pronged approach: (1) verifying their advertisement placement is well placed in relation with the context of the page’s content (brand safety); (2) preventing advertisement fraud (for example, when advertisements are served to a bot instead of a real human); and (3) ensuring the entire advertisement is actually viewable by the users. They accomplish this through their proprietary artificial intelligence technology, which are the combination of machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing algorithms that work in concert to analyze the content. “We use proprietary Lexical Semantics and Sentiment Analysis modules to infer context with extreme accuracy and speed, allowing us to always prevent your ads from being served in content you deem unsafe” explained Avital.
A publisher has a super short time frame to identify the user and serve their advertisement. CHEQ, during that time frame, determines if the content is aligned with the publisher’s advertisement, if the page viewer is human and not a programmed bot, and if the page viewer will be able to view the entire advertisement. When publishers are not using CHEQ’s solution, they may render advertisements to bots, and waste a lot of their marketing budgets. “56% of all internet users today are bots, and in today’s perilous digital advertising world, 90% of advertisements are served to bots” according to Avital.
The company has trained its systems through advanced AI algorithms. These algorithms allow CHEQ to analyze content pages, subjects and themes, make decisions and ensure brand safety for their clients across all of its inventory in real-time. The algorithms aggregate contextual, visual, page data and other information to understand whether a request for an advertisement placement is suitable for a brand. Content blocking is no longer based on methods of blacklists of flagged keywords, but rather through advanced AI capabilities, which include Natural Language Processing and Lexical Semantics Analysis modules. The algorithms not only prevent advertisements from serving near content clients’ deem unsafe, but also tackle advertisement fraud and viewability – two additional issues that concern digital advertisers. CHEQ’s anti-fraud solution uses cybersecurity analysis to uncover data-discrepancies and behavioral anomalies. It looks at more than 700 parameters and utilizes advanced tools to make sure fraudulent impressions are never purchased.
One major challenge in developing algorithms that can analyze content is the understanding of a single word in context. For instance, consider the word “executed.” In today’s’ reality, “executed” is synonymous with violence, public tragedies and perhaps acts of terrorism. But “executed” is also financial lingo for security traders executing trade deals. So content with the word “execute” might flag a false positive, preventing the advertisement from rendering, and missing a potential opportunity for a publisher. CHEQ’s lexical semantics module understand the meaning of words in context. In context is a fine differentiator that sets CHEQ aside from the other NLP products. Their algorithm captures the word that needs more context, and then branches out to all possible definitions and interpretations of the word’s meaning, and begins seeking the contextual data in the content piece. With the contextual content mapped out, the algorithm then begins to form all probabilities of the words interpretations and consequential true context in order to best understand its true meaning and consequently best understand the effect of serving an advertisement on that content page.
CHEQ has recently produced a market leading report called “The Brand Safety Effect”, the first to measure and quantify the precise impact of a negative ad placement. The study was conducted with MAGNA, IPG Media Lab and in collaboration with BMW. They’ve so far raised $5 million for their Series A funding round from Battery Ventures and are hiring for seven new employees across their offices in Tokyo and Tel Aviv. CHEQ is taking on an ambitious and substantial market of digital advertising, where advertising fraud causes $56 billion in wasted expenditures per year. They’re expanding their presence globally, servicing the largest advertisers and challenging the industry’s archaic status-quo. Nonetheless, with CHEQ’s Autonomous Brand Safety solution, the free content we enjoy today will continue to be free.