November 2023

PODCAST: AdExchanger Talks | Down With Blocklists! A podcast interview with Rich Raddon CEO & Co-Founder | by Allison Schiff


Down With Blocklists!

Allison Schiff

By Allison Schiff TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST, 2023 – 6:00 AM






Rich Raddon, CEO & co-founder, Zefr

A podcast interview with Rich Raddon CEO & Co-Founder

It’s not that brands don’t care about supporting the news and good journalism. But an overdependence on keyword blocklists has made it seem that way.

The real problem stems from the fact that advertisers have long had to rely on blunt tools to keep their brands protected, says Rich Raddon, CEO and co-founder of Zefr, a brand suitability provider for walled gardens, speaking on this week’s episode of AdExchanger Talks.

Keyword lists were used regularly during the early days of the internet. I guess it was inertia,” Raddon says, but it stayed in fashion for a long, long time.”

When Raddon would ask a brand about their approach to safety and suitability, they’d often pull out a massive list of keywords.

And as you went through the list with them, you’d see names like Tom Cruise’ or something,” he says, and it would be like, What the – oh, that was from 12 years ago when he jumped on a couch.’”

But more transparent reporting about ad placements and better, more sophisticated scoring technology can alleviate concerns and give advertisers more control so they’re less skittish about how and where they spend.

The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), which sets standard industry definitions for high‑, medium- and low-risk content, has also been a helpful tool, says Raddon, who noted that Zefr’s brand suitability technology uses GARM’s categories.

You have to speak a common vernacular,” Raddon says. If you’re not, then you say tomato,’ I say tomahto,’ and we’re talking about the same thing but we’re not communicating.”

Also in this episode: The brand safety challenges of generative AI during a presidential election year, why Zefr focuses on the walled gardens rather than the open web, whether third-party verification on YouTube – or on any platform for that matter – is truly independent (it isn’t) and how the filmmaker John Hughes indirectly set Raddon on his path to launch a brand suitability startup.

[Show notes: Here’s the broken AI aesthetic” referenced during the second half of the episode, for those who’d like a visual aid.]

For more articles featuring Rich Raddon, click here.

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