5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese By Fitslowcookerqueen
Out of all the social media apps I use I think Instagram (username alzibluk) is my favorite. All we are doing is sharing pictures. I have gotten to be friends with people with similar interests. I do not go on Facebook as much as everything is just politics or someone doing something horrific.
I started taking pictures of different crockpot recipes when user fitslowcookerqueen found me. She started liking my pictures so I started liking hers. I went to her site where I found “5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese.” I was looking for an easy one and I happen to find it here. Below is her site, ingredient list and her instructions.
The only thing I did different was use coconut oil instead of cooking spray. Below is my picture before I turned the power on.
I cooked it on low for 3 hours. I then unplugged my crockpot and let it cool down for a while. It came out a little dryer than it should be but I thoroughly enjoyed the taste.
I will most definitely try this again. I think it is a great base. I see cooking it with mushrooms, bacon, etc. in the future.
A few weeks ago I tried a recipe I found called “4 Ingredient Mac & Cheese.” It actually gave me heartburn. Each time I cooked the leftovers I got the heartburn. There was no heartburn associated with the recipe above. I did want to share that experience.
I was glad to get away from the brown rice, lentil and quinoa recipes I have been making. Although they are great and healthy, it gets boring week after week. It was great to mix it up.
If you have a recipe you would like to share I encourage you to join my group at Markethive. Posting to the group’s blog will get your recipe featured on other sites. I am also pinning recipes I am trying on Pinterest.
Shortly after shutting Veretekk down I embarked on building a new platform from scratch, all new code, fresh, from the start using modern operating systems, this vision is called Markethive. It is a true social network, easily navigated and works similar to Facebook, which means it is extremely intuitive and a quick learn to use.
Markethive is a vertical social network for entrepreneurs, a culture that represents innovation, vision and determination and driven to achieve greater than one’s own boundaries. An engine that roars with the blood, sweat and tears of the individual that seeks beyond their capabilities. We now live in a time that the entrepreneur has become all of us as the traditional culture of jobs fades away into today’s realities.
But Markethive has another engine as well. If you were a member way back in the 90s you remember us ”inventing” Automated Marketing, Veremail (autoresponder emails), Traffic Portals (Blastomatic, Sohomatic, Maoney_Machine, Vereconference), Broadcasting platforms (The Hammer), Tracking (Veretracking) all of this and more all integrated, 20 years ago! Remember the massive unique leads you would get coming to you, not you chasing them?
Today it has been rebranded as Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is attracting traffic, converting to subscribers, then converting to customers, that converting to advocates. Other companies sell a similar service for up to and more than $10,000 per month. I am not kidding. These platforms are valuable, expensive to build and flat out work!
Markethive has fused the Entrepreneur Social Network together with our own Inbound Marketing platform. The results are outstanding
The Hammer evolved into a master piece that published a message, Title and link to literally billions of FFA sites, Classified Ad sites, Guest books, and forums. It was abusive, rude, did not ask, it broke down the walls and placed it’s message, millions of messages on billions of sites. It was an amazing piece of work. It produced massive inbound traffic and leads. People literally became addicted to it. It combined an entertaining eye candy process and a huge massive result. It got oooos and ahhhhs. I became famous for The Hammer. I even have a video of one of the later versions of the Hammer. It is nostalgia in it’s purest form. Enjoy.
I have replaced the Hammer!
In fact I have eclipsed the Hammer with a new Social Networked Broadcasting tool called the Blog Caster (Broadcaster). It integrates into the hundreds of Social Networks owned by 1000s and growing into millions of Markethive subscribers accounts. It operates on a viral process of subscribers, to your posts and their subsequent reach, giving you a downstream result that can easily eclipse reaches of readers into the billions. But not static, but people who react to your messages and the traffic influx becomes massive.
And the message? It originates from your Markethive blog. So your message(s) are comprehensive and often will find themselves being shared by people you never knew. Your Markethive blog is subscribed to by your 1000s of friends and their 1000s of friends, 1000s also share your blog content, with your permission, to their many WordPress and other blogs.
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There are more and more bloggers created every day. If you have a point to share about a product, service, business, events (the list goes on), many people choose to expose it online via their blog. With so many blogging services and platforms out there, how do you choose one? Even after you have chosen a blogging platform, service or network, can you still "Reach" enough people to make a difference.
We all know that blogging is definitely a numbers game. This is why so many bloggers are scrambling to create and promote their blogs on multiple platforms thinking they can reach more people. The greater the "Reach" can bring success to what you're promoting. A big question is, how many people would you like to reach? Now that you have that number in your head the other questions is How do I do that?
MarketHive is the simple answer for many reasons. MarketHive makes it simple, easy and more affordable than any other option out there. Before WordPress, Aweber, Constant Contact, Facebook and other marketing solutions is the CEO of MarketHive. He ushered in the industry of automated marketing back in the early 90's known as the "Godfather of Automated Marketing". if that wasn't enough he then created the first Inbound Marketing Network in the mid 90's. Now he's at it again with his new social Inbound Marketing Network for all entrepreneurs, built by entrepreneurs called MarketHive.
Don't just take my word for it, see his video blow that talks about reaching massive people by blogging. This is just one component of his new business network and how it can impact any bloggers reach in a massive way.
If you're a entrepreneur that specializes in helping others to succeed online, you owe your viewers this info. To get inside the MarketHive system for free more details is as easy as connecting any of your favorite Social Profiles byClicking Here Now
Now is you want to be telling others about MarketHive before they start telling you and others they know.
Brown rice, cooked quinoa, farro, or similar for serving
Place the lentils in the bottom of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the onions, garlic, cauliflower, ginger, curry paste, salt, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and cardamom, then stir to combine.
Pour the tomato puree over the top of the cauliflower and lentils. Refill the tomato puree can halfway with water, then pour it over the top of the slow cooker ingredients so that they are covered with liquid. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, until the lentils are soft.
Just before serving, stir in the coconut milk. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or farro, topped with fresh cilantro.
Below is the picture before I turned the power on to high.
Below is the picture after 5 hours in the high position. I added this to cooked quinoa.
Rick Wiles interviews retired firefighter Mark Taylor who was given this prophetic revelation in 2011. The Lord has chosen Mr. Trump to bring America back from the brink of destruction. Mr. Taylor wrote this amazing prophecy in 2011 giving us a glimpse of what's to come and why all who attack Mr. Trump will fall by the wayside. What's amazing is that this revelation has gone forth to thousands. The wrath of God has come not for the people of America but for the leaders of the establishment. ("I have the same revelation and have said so for over three months maybe longer. Judgment has come fot the wickedness in our leadership and Donald Trump is leading the way." Thomas Prendergast CEO Markethive) The hour of judgment is upon them. The light has begun to shine and the darkness of evil will prevail no more.
The Spirit of God says, I have chosen this man, Donald Trump, for such a time as this. For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be to the United States of America! For I will use this man to bring honor, respect and restoration to America. America will be respected once again as the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth, (other than Israel). The dollar will be the strongest it has ever been in the history of the United States, and will once again be the currency by which all others are judged.
The Spirit of God says, the enemy will quake and shake and fear this man I have anointed. They will even quake and shake when he announces he is running for president, it will be like the shot heard across the world. The enemy will say what shall we do now? This man knows all our tricks and schemes. We have been robbing America for decades, what shall we do to stop this? The Spirit says HA! No one shall stop this that l have started! For the enemy has stolen from America for decades and it stops now! For I will use this man to reap the harvest that the United States has sown for and plunder from the enemy what he has stolen and return it seven-fold back to the United States. The enemy will say Israel, Israel, what about Israel? For Israel will be protected by America once again. The spirit says yes! America will once again stand hand and hand with Israel, and the two shall be as one. For the ties between Israel and America will be stronger than ever, and Israel will flourish like never before.
The Spirit of God says, I will protect America and Israel, for this next president will be a man of his word, when he speaks the world will listen and know that there is something greater in him than all the others before him. This man’s word is his bond and the world and America will know this and the enemy will fear this, for this man will be fearless. The Spirit says, when the financial harvest begins so shall it parallel in the spiritual for America.
The Spirit of God says, in this next election they will spend billions to keep this president in; it will be like flushing their money down the toilet. Let them waist their money, for it comes from and it is being used by evil forces at work, but they will not succeed, for this next election will be a clean sweep for the man I have chosen. They will say things about this man (the enemy), but it will not affect him, and they shall say it rolls off of him like the duck, for as the feathers of a duck protect it, so shall my feathers protect this next president. Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man and the abilities that I have gifted him with, and they will even begin to agree with him says the Spirit of God.
Race or more accurately, racism was a primary issue in the Donald Sterling and L.A. Clipper controversy; however, the most important business component at risk was both the NBA and L.A. Clipper Brand. Now, a brand is commonly perceived as a product, service or concept manifested in the form of a visual logo that represents a specific company. Okay, a nice safe and tidy corporate definition; however, successful brands are intangible and represent emotions, qualities and stories that motivate consumers to join in partnership with a specific company that gives value to its consumers. A brand that attract its customers by providing value and develops a trusting relationship then, the logo not only represents the company but, the corporate culture (ideals, ideologies & values) that is portrayed in media for the benefit of further expanding the brand to a larger consumer base. “The NBA has been the poster child for diversity in American sports from the coaches on the sidelines, to the executive’s they hire and obviously to the players on the court”. Now, 81% of the NBA players are people of color, ¾ of the NBA players are African-American and 27% of NBA coaches are African-American”. Needless to say, NBA’s brand is about inclusion of all people and strives for parity in all levels of employment.
So, what happens when a well-known brand is compromised because of an act of self-destructive conduct within corporate management? When large sums of revenue are at risk then, immediate emergency measures are implemented to save the cash and more importantly, salvage the reputation of the organization that was perceived to have committed an offense against its customer base. Donald Sterling, former owner of the LA. Clippers knows all about committing corporate suicide due to a documented long-term history of racial bigotry against African Americans. Unfortunately, Mr. Sterling failed to consider the economic and social impact his words would have on his employees, basketball fans and corporate sponsors who invested significant sums of money into the Clipper organization. Let’s look at who invested and who threatened to bail if, Mr. Sterling wasn’t removed from the Clipper organization in real time.
Well, sponsors like Car Max, State Farm, Virgin America, Chumash Casino Resort, Lumber Liquidators, Yokohoma Tire Corporations, Corona, Constellation Brands, Kia Motors, Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull, Burger King, Samsung and MGM Resorts and End Ties, all threatened to end ties, with both the Clippers and the NBA. Clearly, they didn’t want to be associated with any entity that appeared to support racial bigotry. With millennials and older adults being primary consumers of goods and services in both social media and professional sports it would be complete lunacy for sponsors to ostracize such a critical revenue stream.
Business is about relationship building and like anything of value takes considerable time and effort to develop; however, it only takes seconds or minutes to DESTROY. Developing a trusting relationship with customers is the foundation of business’s ability to achieve long-term success. Now, if you consider Donald Sterling’s 30-year plus ownership of the Clippers was essentially destroyed in under 9-minutes of secret audiotape (recorded by his mistress) and with the potential of collateral damage to his other businesses. Additionally, future business opportunities were potentially compromised; hence, the true cost of this act of entrepreneurial-suicide remains unknown to the general public.
So, it remains clear that one’s words have consequences and this is true in all aspects of life but, even more, when you’re the owner of a NBA franchise worth 1 billion dollars and the majority of your players were African-American. It is clear Mr. Sterling didn’t respect certain people of different races/ethnicity but, why didn’t he respect his brand? Why risk it all?
Well, let’s first review a definition to ensure everyone is on the same page, “Brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” Alright, that’s clear so both NBA & L.A., Clippers are brands that represent the best in professional basketball, which appeals to millions of people who are willing to pay to be associated with such organizations because they provide value/service to their target market.
Unfortunately, Mr. Sterling FAILED to recognize the importance of valuing his target market and the formula for success that generated millions of dollars for his organization. He took things for granted. When you have success and you become reckless then, you become a liability to your company and those who rely on its production of products and services to the established consumer abuse.
Now, fortunately for both the NBA and LA Clipper organization, they never lost sight of the most important element of the Formula of Success and that is the fans. Without the fans then, you have no business and keeping them interested in the basketball brand was paramount to everyone’s success.
Like in both online and offline businesses the formula for success entails a system designed to produce new customers and create an income multiplier rather than just one-time customers but, a lifetime customer. This is desired in all businesses; hence, to achieve this goal begins with respecting your BRAND.
YouTube has become the go to site for inspiring cat videos, as well as music and a myriad of other things, but one of the most popular searches on YouTube is also “How-To” videos. Kids have learned to play musical instruments on YouTube and kids of all ages have learned a wide varitety of skills using a wide arrray “how-to” videos.
YouTube, however is not the only kid on the block when it comes to “How-To” information.
Take a look at the following instructional sites for additional sources of how-to information.
Wiki-how Still a great site – It is a vast repository of information from the easy to the incredibly complicated.
Lifehacker – from the mundane to the exotic – Lifehacker reports on the unique things you need to know and the skills you need to master in order to not just survive, but thrive in this world.
doityourself The ultimate do it yourselfers website with advice on projects from A-Z
FabHow – Detailed step by step instructions with very large pictures for the do it yourselfer.
WonderHowTo – videos and step by step information. Very easy to follow.
Instructables – from the simple to the highly complex detailed instructions on building things.
You actually can save quite a bit of time and money by making things yourself on certain projects. You also may be able to fix things yourself instead of hiring someone to do it. For many tasks, it involves something you probably would not attempt or even think of on your own. Good luck to all the do it yourselfers out there.
The first picture is my website at http://alzibluk.com. I wrote the first blog post. The last two blog posts were written by other people that I don’t even know. I use Markethive to constantly give my websites content. I am a big fan of utilizing groups in Markethive for this purpose.
The second picture is my blog post. I like how the title and picture looks.
The third picture is text from my post. It is very easy to read on my phone. We live in a world that is constantly on the go.
My last picture is to show the Pinterest widget. I do want people to follow me on Pinterest.
Thanks for reading and I give the Fourteenpress Theme two thumbs up.
This is the first blogpost in the Markethive Group called Crockpot Recipes. I encourage anyone reading this to join and share their crockpot recipes. It will be featured on different websites. I also plan in the future to make a Pinterest board for crockpot recipes to pin the ones I like.
The recipe I am sharing I got from mostly homemade mom. Below is her link. The recipe is perfect. I was impressed how easy and delicious it came out. I am not a fan of sour cream so I did not use it.
Although the recipe is wonderful, I can’t help myself but always add more things to it. It is fun to experiment. Below are the ingredients I used.
2 (14 oz) packages of black beans, drained and rinsed. (I use Fig Foods Black Beans)
1 uncooked cup of brown rice (I use Texmati Brown Rice)
2 cups water
1 cup salsa (I used Frontera Hot Roasted Habanero Salsa)
2 tsp cumin (I bought Cumin Seeds from Amazon)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt (I use Himalayan Pink Salt)
¼ tsp black pepper
1 diced onion (my idea)
5 minced gloves of garlic (my idea)
1 avocado (my idea)
1 jalapeno pepper (my idea)
A handful of mushrooms cut into smaller pieces (my idea)
I greased my crockpot with coconut oil and threw all the contents in it. Below is my picture of it before I turned on the power.
Following the original recipe I put my crockpot in the low setting. The original recipe called for 3 hours cooking time, the picture below was 4 hours 30 minutes later. I waited for the liquid to soak up.
This was the third time I have made this. It is great by itself. You can use it for dipping tortilla chips or making burritos. This time I am using it for soft shell tacos.
I like using Maria and Ricardo’s Soft Corn Tortillas. They taste great and do not fall part like other soft shell tacos. I have experimented with others but keep coming back to them.
A few weeks ago, Lindsay Buescher, senior manager, analytics at Carat, read an article on Adweek.com about a company called FreeStreams.com that was pumping up its traffic by enticing Web users into accidentally visiting via hidden links on sites that house pirated content. As it happened, one of her agency’s clients, Red Bull, was a FreeStreams advertiser. Buescher was determined to find out what was going on. Her team discovered Red Bull video ads were running on FreeStreams through two different networks, including ValueClick, a publicly traded company. (ValueClick says it has since stopped working with FreeStreams.)
That wasn’t something Buescher had run into much. She kept digging. After about three weeks, Carat was blacklisting 77 more sites for Red Bull beyond FreeStreams. Many of the sites didn’t actually sell pre-roll ads, which was what the client was supposedly paying for. Some were merely gaming sites with interstitials. Some were sites that didn’t even exist or were blocked by her company. Others ran video inventory continuously. Many were simply a case of “fraud,” she found.
In the end, Buescher’s efforts resulted in not only a lot of legwork but also a $150,000 refund for the client. That’s hardly enough to set the industry on a different course, but to Buescher it said something. “Red Bull is spending 90 percent of its online budget direct with publishers,” she says. “Imagine if they weren’t.”
It might not matter either way. That’s because the online ad industry is facing a swelling crisis, one defined by fake traffic, bogus publishers and invisible Web visitors, a trend first investigated by Adweek in an online story, “Meet the Most Suspect Publishers on the Web,” published March 19 of this year. Once thought contained to a handful of rogue players that had figured out how to exploit ad exchanges, bogus ad inventory, as it turns out, is rampant. In fact, according to numerous sources across the ecosystem, fake traffic is essentially systemic to online advertising—it’s part of how the business works. And a slew of top companies are involved in this—whether wittingly or not. “You see it with almost any partner you work with,” as Alan Silverberg, media platforms director at Moxie Interactive, puts it. “From AOL and Yahoo to Facebook, from pure-play partners and the network space to portals. We can’t stop it,” he says, referring to the preponderance of questionable traffic. Though for many publishers, it may be a question of whether they can’t stop it, or won’t. Adds Buescher: “It’s the whole business. We see this even with direct-to-publisher deals. It’s really the media planners’ fault. But when you start seeing partners breaking contracts … no one has time to monitor 3,500 sites when they are just cranking, cranking, cranking out plans.”
Of course, there are plenty of those who think this is being blown out of proportion. Some in the online ad world see bots, fake traffic and the like as a manageable nuisance, hardly a crisis. But the ranks of the alarmed are growing by the day.
During a recent interview, online ad veteran Wenda Millard, president of Medialink, made the bold claim that a quarter of the online ad market is fraudulent. “What we have found is the devaluation of digital media is causing us to lose about 25 percent of the roughly $30 billion that is being spent,” she reported. “It’s stolen [ad revenue].” In defining fraud, Millard lumped together piracy, nonviewable ads, ads stacked on top of one another, inappropriate content and, of course, deliberate malicious behavior, in her analysis. “In most people’s wildest dreams, they wouldn’t imagine how much [questionable traffic] there is,” she says. “People should be very, very worried.”
Let’s start with individual publishers. A group of Web-traffic analysts that did not want to be named for fear of pointing a finger at potential clients has identified a dozen well-known sites that exhibit questionable traffic patterns, including Break, CollegeHumor, Complex, Crackle, Entrepreneur and Totalbeauty. One source of information the group examined was comScore’s cross-visiting reports, which revealed that each site on the list has a high percentage of visitors who also visit sites suspected of living on bot traffic.
For example, Break, CollegeHumor, Complex, Gamespot and Crackle all have a high cross-traffic index with sites like Mommyhotspot, featuring parenting content, as well as Missoandfriends and Dreammining, a gaming hub aimed at young girls, plus a variety of sites frequently blacklisted by ad buyers. According to Augustine Fou, founder of the Marketing Science Consulting Group, Dreammining raises many questions. Using Alexa data, Fou found Dreammining’s top search term to be “mining of selena,” which exhibits zero traffic on Google, he points out. The site also has a high at-work audience that doesn’t match its demo, while the second- and third-largest domains driving traffic to the site are “possible click farms,” he says.
Fou also looked at Mommyhotspot, which had unidentifiable domains driving traffic and barely any inbound links, per his analysis.
The overall pattern Fou and others examined—sites like Dreammining and Mommyhotspot sharing audience with Break and Crackle—does not in itself directly implicate these branded sites in anything scandalous, though it might strike some as unexpected that a group of guys’ websites share traffic with several young girls’ sites, let alone girls’ sites possibly employing click farms.
But a deeper examination is revealing. According to an analysis conducted by a Web-traffic expert who did not want to be identified citing confidentiality agreements, all these sites, whether wittingly or not, have some level of “bogus traffic.” Research companies regularly discount traffic from Web publishers before reporting data like unique users or impressions because such traffic looks questionable. And even they don’t catch everything. In this case, an Internet security expert suspects these sites (Break, College Humor, etc.) might all be purchasing traffic from the same vendor, which is likely employing bots.
Adweek reached out to Ben Edelman, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard, who has done extensive research on Internet architecture, advertising, traffic patterns and fraud detection, and who has built a proprietary Web crawler he uses to detect curious activity. Edelman says via his proprietary tracking tools, he’s gathered evidence that Crackle, College Humor, Break and others regularly employ “invisible traffic”—i.e., these companies deliver their entire sites via iframes or tiny pixels on other sites that no one else can see.
Consider the guy-oriented Break (which last week was reported to be merging with Alloy Digital). Edelman found that Break.com loads invisibly through a variety of complex methods. In one instance, a company called Ptp22 redirects Break traffic through a variety of middlemen before it is loaded invisibly via iframe. (The list of go-betweens includes Marketwithmogul and TooShocking.)
Another company, Deplayer, conducts the same kind of operation. Adweek was unable to find contact information for the company.
Analytics firm SimilarWeb would seem to provide more supporting evidence. Some 25 percent of Break’s traffic comes via referrals, much of it from the adult category. The top referring site isn’t Facebook or Twitter but a firm called ClickSure, which sells Web traffic. In Edelman’s opinion, Break knows it’s buying such traffic. “But [this traffic doesn’t deliver actual] users who can see the site or any ads on the site. But there are indeed ads on the landing page. I saw ads for AT&T,” he says.
“We occasionally use the common practice of trade link sharing, which accounts for a small percentage of traffic,” says a Break representative. “We consistently work in the interests of our partners and have created high standards to vet traffic for quality issues. We have immediately suspended suspicious providers in question for further exploration.”
(UPDATE: Carat's Buescher says her agency has found that a campaign purchased through Break is running on three piracy sites: allmyvideos.net, divxstage.eu, and movreel.com. They admitted to it," she said. Adweek has reached out to Break to respond).
Edelman says he has been tracking Crackle for years. That site, which is owned by Sony and features a series starring Jerry Seinfeld, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, exhibits signs of invisible traffic, says Edelman. According to SimilarWeb, 18 percent of Crackle’s traffic comes from referrals. Among the site’s top referrers are Inttrax, Lnksdata, Redirect.ad-feeds and Contenko. Some of these companies are known for selling pop unders, adware and the like, per Edelman.
A source close to Crackle says the site cleaned up some of its traffic sources from years past but still occasionally encounters suspect traffic when marketing the site via various ad nets. The problem is described as “minor and the firm takes measures to address it.” Also, per sources, College Humor has noticed suspect traffic patterns from traffic purchased from outside vendors and has taken steps to eliminate it.
“Complex typically shares visitors with quality sites such as GQ.com and Vulture.com,” adds a Complex spokesperson. “In August we conducted a small, one-off traffic vendor test that delivered impressions that fell far below our standards, and we quickly terminated the relationship. We take seriously the matter of bogus traffic and we support any and all industry measures to address the problem.”
Beyond direct publishers with invisible traffic, what about the assessment from Moxie’s Silverberg that the Facebooks, Yahoos and AOLs of the world could be touched by the questionable traffic issue?
In Facebook’s case, the company has wrestled with scammers creating fake profiles and selling artificial likes. It’s a problem that’s mostly under control, according to a Facebook spokesperson: “As part of our ongoing site integrity efforts, we have recently updated our automated systems to remove ‘likes’ on pages that may have been gained by means that violate Facebook’s terms. On average, less than 1 percent of likes on any given page will be removed.”
Facebook is generally a closed environment. But it’s the wide-open, murky world of ad networks, ad exchanges and real-time bidding that experts say is rife with fraudulent activity. That’s because clients continue to look for huge quarterly CPM decreases and expect the Web to deliver cheap, efficient results. Meanwhile, agencies benefit from marking up ad inventory through their trading desks. Every vendor is plugged into every other vendor and platform, and sellers are incented to drive the most clicks at the cheapest rates possible. Thus, this ecosystem is practically begging for scammers.
“A certain set of conditions has led to a proliferation and explosion of this, and everyone will be touched by this problem to different degrees,” says Steve Sullivan, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s vp, ad technology. “Add in retargeting and audience buying, it really represents a challenge in differentiating quality impressions vs. non quality.”
AOL and Yahoo both operate in the network exchange realm. And experts consider them among the good guys—the companies that have billed themselves as safe havens in this lawless space wouldn’t be vulnerable to bogus traffic. But exchange buyers say that even these companies can be vulnerable to questionable traffic. Take AOL’s Advertising.com, which has long billed itself as a premium exchange. However, ad buyers reveal that AOL campaigns sometimes feature chunks of inventory going to unidentifiable sites, reported back as “dummy publisher” or “house account.” AOL will also deliver major swaths of inventory to companies like Swaave, which will return a 0.0 percent clickthrough rate. CTRs are low these days, but not that low. A look at Advertising.com’s inventory mix includes properties like the live video chat platforms ooVoo and Tinychat, the Web-browsing disguiser AnchorFree, as well as companies like Integri and JCarterMarketing—essentially other ad nets. Meaning that buyers who come to Advertising.com for transparency may not find it, leaving it open to all sorts of deception. “We see these [kinds of] companies selling ads on 20 to 30 ad networks,” says Carat’s Buescher. “The percentage of inventory on our blacklists is astounding.”
“Whenever you buy from someone who won’t tell you where your ads are running, there is a real danger they are ripping you off,” says Zach Coelius, CEO of the ad tech firm Triggit.
According to one ad buyer, Ad.com’s supply currently includes questionable inventory and “copyright-infringing sites.” An executive from a major agency trading desk confirmed that Ad.com runs ads “on suspect sites and reports back traffic from unnamed publishers.”
AOL’s svp publisher services Dave Jacobs declines to discuss specific partners but says the company employs an in-house quality-review team that is constantly monitoring these issues. Jacobs adds that Advertising.com only works with other ad networks on a site-by-site basis—and never buys blindly. He was unable to discuss why some clients receive reports with traffic from the likes of “dummy publisher,” while maintaining that such a practice was not common.
“We think we are at the leading edge of protecting our partners,” he says. “We are very much focused on maintaining blacklists. With Ad.com, our focus is the direct-supply area. There may be instances where we can identify opportunities to deliver subset audiences outside our network. It’s not unusual for any company in our position to evaluate multiple sources of supply … but with our network, we’ve been focused on telling a story that is about premium.”
Similarly, Yahoo’s data-driven targeting platform, Genome, has billed itself as a tool that “allows you to benefit from direct access to Yahoo premium inventory, publisher partners such as MSN and AOL, and comScore top 1,000 through a simple, streamlined transaction point.” Yet Genome campaigns can also include unnamed sites or properties like the file-sharing site MediaFire and the ad networks eHealthcareSolutions and Blackboxmedia. Meaning Genome buyers may be flying blind, while the platform is vulnerable to abuse.
“Yahoo takes supply quality very seriously,” said the company in a statement. “We are committed to maintaining a healthy marketplace with our advertiser and publisher partners, and use technical and procedural safeguards to support that commitment. … Genome uses a combination of internal tools and third-party services to help maintain the quality of the network. Our Genome network purchases inventory on specific sites based on quality and audience, and regularly provides advertisers with site lists before and after a campaign runs for increased transparency.”
“In the spectrum of networks out there from reputable to sketchy, I’d put AOL and Yahoo on the reputable side,” says Chris Paul, gm, svp at VivaKi. “The most common issue is when new sites join the networks without being fully vetted for advertisers’ content standards by the network administrators.”
Agency trading desks also deliver lots of inventory on networks into which buyers don’t have much insight. Often buyers will receive traffic reports listing buckets of inventory from something labeled “microsoftadvertisingexchange,” say insiders.
While the display market has seen dicey practices growing for a while now, the challenge of bad inventory is suddenly escalating in video, where CPMs can be 10 times greater than display. Take the BrightRoll Exchange. Besides housing loads of inventory from the aformentioned Freestreams, the company also delivers large volumes of inventory via sites like Fave.tv and Videoswag.tv. Plus, it delivers lots of ads via "opaque sources" or sites it doesn't report on, as well as a good amount of blacklisted inventory, per buyers. One buyer says his company blocks one in four impressions sold in the exchange.
BrightRoll CEO Tod Sacerdoti says that in the case of Fave.tv, that inventory wasn’t supposed to be available. The site was on a list of unapproved URLs from an Israeli company called HIRO. Sacerdoti notes that BrightRoll does provide an option for buyers called “tier 4,” adding, “We recommend people question it.”
But overall, Sacerdoti says, BrightRoll is an open platform that plugs into nearly everybody selling video, and is not something that the company can be expected to police. It’s not “BrightRoll’s inventory, after all. The BrightRoll exchange is the inventory in the entire industry,” he says. “Is there an inventory problem in the industry? Yes.”
Indeed, the ad exchange space is so fraught with danger that companies like the independent trading desk Digilant run massive reports every week tracking which companies are peddling the same ad inventory on different exchanges—with completely different labels. According to Digilant COO Nate Woodman, the situation is so ungovernable that the agency has found instances where it’s ended up buying impressions from itself. Digilant blocks one vendor, CPX Interactive, for this reason. Woodman says that companies can blacklist sites all they want, but that they are better off creating whitelists—i.e., lists of preapproved sites. “The problem there is, that will kill your performance,” he says. Why? Because when you’re just out for clicks, bot sites perform better.
And the bot guys are slick. “As soon as sites get on blacklists, there is little incentive to maintain them,” explains Kiril Tsemekhman, svp, chief data officer at Integral Ad Science. “Then a new site pops up.”
And so, the problems persist. John Snyder, CEO of the keyword-targeting firm Grapeshot, says he’s lost business because his company won’t sell bad inventory. “We’ll hear, ‘Your competitor got great clicks,’ but all on two sites and it was all fraud. But it’s these optimization algorithms that find those clicks.”
Says Woodman: “When we try to tighten things up, our measured performance goes down. There is an incentive among buyers to let the floodgates open. And publishers need more money, so they ignore.” So the bad traffic persists. “We need to fix this as an industry,” he adds. “Somebody needs to give a shit.”
The IAB seems to. Per Sullivan, the organization is working on devising a standard for publishers akin to the Good Housekeeping Seal. He’d like to see the biggest stakeholders get more aggressive about the problem, including brands and agencies. “If buyers came out and said, ‘I will only buy from certified vendors,’ that would change things,” he says.
Carat’s Buescher thinks bold steps are needed and urges more of her brethren to take big steps. “It’s a sad thing,” she says. “There is no single provider out there that can fix this. Until then, all brands should have a manager that handles brand safety.”