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Ad Quality Report


New Report Finds Nearly One-Third of Display Ads Violate Established Ad Industry Guidelines, Negatively Affect Performance Of Ad-Supported Websites

Ad Lightning Study Reveals Cumulative Impact of Bad Ads Doubles Web Page Load Time, Degrades Other Customer Experiences That Affect Publisher Revenues

Seattle, WA, Feb 22, 2017 — A new digital advertising report released today from data analytics company Ad Lightning reveals a surge in ad quality issues that stem from programmatic advertising practices. Cumulatively, these issues pose a significant threat to digital publishers, including doubling the load time for pages on their websites. The Ad Quality Report for Publishers, reveals that a growing number of brands’ ad units are in flagrant violation of industry guidelines. Almost one-third of the ads were found to have “serious” ad quality issues that can negatively affect consumer experiences on ad-supported websites and subsequently threaten publisher revenues.

The Ad Quality Report for Publishers presents the findings of the first and only study to survey live data and examine how some active ad units could be adversely affecting publisher brands, audiences and revenues in the $22 billion programmatic digital ad market. The quarterly report conducted by Ad Lightning provides a detailed industry update on advertising quality and will track performance on an ongoing basis.

The study also revealed the occurrence rates and magnitude of five significant quality issues:

  • Oversized Ads: exceed industry standard file size limits and take too long to load
  • Over-Requested Ads: Ad requests made to networks too many times
  • Processor-Intensive Ads: Ads that use too much CPU processing time and power
  • SSL Non-Compliance: Ads that are not HTTPS encrypted
  • Intrusive Ad Formats: Ads delivered in unsupported formats

Oversized ads were the most frequent issue surfaced in the study: digital display ads that exceed Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) guidelines, with more than 41% of the ads found to exceed the IAB maximum.

The full report is available for download here. For the Ad Quality Study, Ad Lightning examined millions of ad occurrences across a contained representative sample of 50 popular websites during the 4th quarter of 2016 and early January 2017.

Press Release


Pioneer Square Labs’ Spin-Out Ad Lightning Secures $2 Million in Seed Round, Led by Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Digital Ventures

Founder, CEO is former Microsoft, MSNBC and Yahoo Exec Scott Moore

Business Intelligence Tool For Publishers and Advertising Platforms Tackles Bad Advertising, Enhances Consumer Experience

Seattle, November 15, 2016 — Business intelligence startup Ad Lightning has completed a $2 million seed financing round to help publishers and digital advertising platforms eliminate slow-loading, disruptive and non-compliant digital ads. Sinclair Digital Ventures, an investment division of Sinclair Broadcast Group, led the round, supported by other angel backers. Ad Lightning is a spinout of Pioneer Square Labs, whose founders, Mike Galgon, Greg Gottesman and Geoff Entress, also participated in the round.

Digital publishing veteran Scott Moore founded the company. His background includes leadership roles at Microsoft, MSNBC, Yahoo! and as CEO of Cheezburger. Moore, a serially successful entrepreneur, is based in Seattle and is also a seed investor in the Ad Lightning financing. Moore and Galgon serve on the company’s board of directors and will be joined by Kevin Cotlove, Vice President of Digital Operations at Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair Broadcast Group is the largest and most diversified television broadcasting company in the country today.

“I've spent most of my career as a web publisher, so this is a personal mission for me,” said Moore. “The ad-supported publishing business may not exist in five years if tools like Ad Lightning are not adopted by the industry. Unchecked, consumers will continue to suffer from deteriorating user experiences until they download an ad blocker and kill the revenue model. Ad Lightning is the toolkit I wish I’d had as a publisher because it solves digital publishers’ biggest pain point. We’re thrilled to have Sinclair’s backing as well as their participation as a strategic partner.”

Ad Lightning’s proprietary intelligence tool was designed to give digital publishers the insight and control needed to manage programmatic advertising creative, eliminate ads that hamper site performance and consumer experience, and maximize return on investment. Programmatic — or automated — digital advertising has grown into a $17 billion industry, becoming the dominant standard for delivering online and mobile ads. But programmatic ads and their delivery can cause latency and other negative consequences for consumers.

“Programmatic technologies offer huge advantages, but they can also be the culprits of some very poor consumer experiences,” said Cotlove. “Ad Lightning solves for that. We are already seeing excellent results with the Ad Lightning toolkit for Sinclair properties and believe it will help us serve our audiences while ensuring healthy ad revenues that keep our properties vibrant and high quality.”

Ad Lightning helps publishers and other ad-based businesses preserve brand integrity, protect audience experience and recover some of the $10 billion in estimated lost revenues annually caused by the slow-loading, disruptive or non-compliant digital ad units that can impact consumer experience, and begin to reverse the rapid consumer adoption of ad-blocking software. Since the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released its LEAN advertising standards a year ago in response to these negative trends, publishers and marketers alike are increasingly seeking ways to monitor programmatic advertising creative with the consumer experience in mind.

“While it’s true that programmatic advertising technology is in many ways a marketer’s dream, its adoption has had unintended consequences in the form of major site performance problems,” said Galgon. “It has forced many publishers to trade off long-term audience engagement and satisfaction for short-term revenue. It doesn’t have to be that way: Ad Lightning is a powerful tool that any digital ad-dependent business can use to combat the risks associated with programmatic transactions."

About Ad Lightning

Founded in 2016 as a spin-out of start-up studio Pioneer Square Labs, Ad Lighting helps advertising dependent publishers and ad platforms take control of programmatic advertising creative. More information about the company is available at or by following @AdLightningTech on Twitter.

About Pioneer Square Labs

Pioneer Square Labs is a Seattle-based startup studio that tests and validates startup ideas, then funds and recruits a founding team around the most promising concepts. For more information, visit

Scott Moore Biography

Moore has been a digital media leader for 20 years. His past experience includes CEO of Cheezburger, Inc. a digital humor network which was sold in March of 2016. Prior to Cheezburger, Moore served as Chief Digital Officer of hibu Group, a UK based multinational provider of marketing services to small and medium sized businesses. He was head of Media at Yahoo! where he was responsible for P&L, product development, original programming, business development and daily operations of Yahoo!’s market-leading consumer services from 2005 to 2009. Moore also served in various roles at Microsoft Corporation, including as General Manager of MSN, US; Publisher of Slate and President of; the joint venture of Microsoft and NBC News.

For media inquiries, contact:

Jeanne Meyer for Ad Lightning

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