As the vast majority of brands and agencies report buying display ads programmatically, brand-safe environments are a top priority for all involved.

According to a study released this month by AOL, 84 percent of brands and agencies are buying display ads programmatically. More than half are also buying programmatic mobile and video ads.

Those budgets are expected to increase going forward for more than half of brands and agencies in display, mobile and video.

When it comes to where brands and agencies are spending their money, representatives involved in the survey are in agreement as to what they want. The top two responses when asked about programmatic challenges were transparency and inventory quality.

Quite frankly, brands and agencies don’t want their ads showing up on low-quality sites filled with low-quality traffic.

The main cause for this concern is the abundance of fraudulent traffic. A reported 36 percent of all ad traffic is from bots, and it’s threatening the industry.

“This fraudulent traffic is easily monetized in a system that focuses less on traffic sources and more on ad performance,” Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah said at a recent IAB conference.

In an effort to curtail that, ad buyers are increasingly looking for inventory and ad networks that place a high focus on quality.

Buyers, as brand representatives, need to know the traffic source and content quality of what they are buying meets the needs of the brand. When buyers see evidence — or even just suspicion — that the inventory they’re buying doesn’t meet their quality requirements, the will move quickly to blacklist publishers or their ad partners. This makes that publisher ineligible for future campaign dollars from those buyers.

“At Technorati we’ve adopted a stringent approach to evaluating inventory quality and are very selective in the publishers we work with,” Technorati Sr. Director of Network Operations Chris Hallenbeck said. “Also, after a site is running on our network, we have technology partners that, among other things, continuously scan a site’s traffic allowing us to detect and then remove sources of bot fraud.”

As a publisher, selecting quality networks to work with is paramount. The old adage of keeping an eye on “the company you keep” comes to mind.

The evaluation of a publisher’s ad partner should follow the same guidelines of any other service provider. A successful partner relationship will include the care and attention that any other service provider would do for their customers.

Publishers should also carefully select the partners they utilize to help generate traffic to their sites.

“Publishers need get educated about traffic fraud and how to fight it,” Technorati VP of Product Chris Manolarakis said. “We reach out to publishers and help them understand the risks and also help them remove the compromised traffic from their sites. We work to find solutions and work on a strategy to protect them in the long term, not just the short term.”