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Third Screen Media adds third-party ad tracking

Mobile ad network Third Screen Media, a subsidiary of AOL's Platform-A, has implemented third-party 1x1 pixel tracking and image hosting as an option for advertisers running campaigns on the TSM Network.

The decision is a direct response to the news -- which this publication broke -- that Omnicom Media Group's OMD media agency will rely on DoubleClick DART or another third-party ad server for independent verification of mobile display campaign delivery and click performance. TSM was one of the last major hold-outs, as competitors such as Millennial Media, Ringleader Digital, Quattro Wireless and Jumptap all offer third-party ad tracking.

"We have always accepted third-party-served standards for ads sold and served directly on our mobile site," said Stacy Green, spokeswoman for the New York Times, a publisher partner of Third Screen Media. "We welcome this implementation from TSM of third-party ad tracking.

"Anything that encourages the growth of the mobile advertising ecosystem and instills confidence in advertisers and agencies benefits us all," she said.

Platform-A's Third Screen Media is the oldest, most established and one of the largest mobile ad networks in the U.S. The TSM Network includes 26 content channels.

In addition to the New York Times, publishers in the TSM Network include AOL brands such as Mapquest, CBS Sportsline,, Time Warner's TMZ, Navteq's, the Tribune Co., AccuWeather and WhitePages Inc.

In addition, while NBC's The Weather Channel sells its own inventory, TSM serves the publisher's mobile ads.

On Feb. 25, Mobile Marketer broke the news that OMD would no longer accept site-served publisher data for mobile delivery and click performance related to mobile display advertising.

Bob Walczak, founder/CEO of Ringleader Digital, responded to OMD's mandate of third-party verification (see story).

Now, TSM has responded as well.

Up until now, TSM had been resistant to the third-party ad-tracking method, but the company has completely reversed their course due to pressure from its publisher and agency partners.

TSM has been very cautious in how it has implemented to its publisher partners. The company claims that it has always been its goal to allow agencies and advertisers full visibility to how their campaigns perform.

Its decision is an important step in the maturation process of the mobile Web as a marketing channel, in that it unifies most mobile ad networks under a single policy and offers accountability to big-brand advertisers.

This could be a sign that the mobile advertising market is shifting in the right direction by bringing more visibility and accountability into the system.

The idea is to let brands directly measure the effectiveness of medium and thus sway larger brands to invest more.

Third Screen Media sent out the following email to its publisher base:

"Over the course of the last few months, we have received an increasing number of requests from advertisers and agencies to provide ad tracking as part of their campaign buys (e.g. Mobile Marketer, Feb. 25, 2009: Omnicom agency OMD mandates third-party verification for mobile display campaigns).

"The process of ad tracking involves embedding a pixel within an advertisement that will render as ads are being displayed. This will provide advertisers with an additional tool to gauge the performance and effectiveness of their advertisements.

"In response to these requests, effective immediately, TSM will be implementing third-party 1x1 pixel tracking as well as image hosting as an advertiser option for campaigns that run on the TSM Network. This requires no action or change on your behalf and you will automatically be eligible for this type of campaign.

"As a result of enabling pixel tracking, these pixels may cause a slight delay in loading times. Also, as occasionally occurs in online, 1x1 pixel tracking may reveal discrepancies between the number of ads served and the number of pixels viewed. Therefore, it's possible that bonus campaigns may be run as reconciliation.

"We believe that this is a positive change. It will make your tagged inventory more desirable to advertisers and agencies, and will allow you to access additional campaigns that require pixel tracking."