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How Confiant Uncomplicated Complex Media's Ad Ops



"What is Complex - a subsidiary of Buzzfeed* about you ask?" Making Culture Pop is the answer. Everything that pop culture touches, sees, talks about or feels is in their DNA. Every month, more than 120 million people engage with Complex Media's content. So, providing a premium experience is high on their list of “must-haves”.

*In June 2021, as part of the announcement of its planned initial public offering, BuzzFeed announced that it would acquire Complex Networks from Verizon Hearst Media Partners, using proceeds from their IPO.[Wikipedia]. 



The Complex Ad Technology team was swamped with increasing numbers of complaints about dangerous and disruptive ads being served to their sites through the programmatic ad auction process. There were so many instances that the tech team didn’t have the manpower or the technology to figure out where the bad ads were coming from, let alone preventing them from being served on their sites. They knew it was time to get rid of the ads that were ruining their outstanding user experience.



After searching for an automated threat intelligence solution that would identify and block ads with security or quality violations before they appeared on their sites, Complex decided to implement Confiant's Ad Controls for Publishers Solution. Several months following implementation of Confiant’s solution on Complex Media's sites, Chris Gironda, Senior Manager of Ad Technology & Data Strategy at Complex and Confiant’s CEO and co-founder, Louis-David Mangin (LD) discussed how the solution helped Complex Networks.



Chris Gironda

Manager of Ad Technology & Data Strategy, Complex - A BuzzFeed Subsidiary

Why was Complex looking for an ad threat intelligence and blocking solution in the first place?

Complex wants to deliver a premium look-and-feel on all of our sites and the brands we work with; and the things that we believe should not be part of that premium experience include: re-directs, heavy ads, sluggish site loads, poor user experience, and phishing scams. Our Ad tech team suspected ad threat activities from our analysis of the complaints we were receiving. Since we consider ourselves a premium brand, we were looking for a solution that could help us automatically block those negative activities, if they were the cause of the complaints.


Complex Media's Initial Concerns:

  • Forced redirects
  • Heavy Ads & In-Banner Videos
  • Sluggish site loads
  • Phishing scams
  • Overall poor or dangerous user experiences

What was your vetting process and why did you pick Confiant?

Our parent company, operated our programmatic ad bidding process as a managed service until 2019 when we brought it back in-house. At that time, our Ad tech team was tasked with re-establishing relationships with our SSPs, and also doing a deep-dive on our Ad tech to decide who we want to work with.

Confiant had a good reputation in the industry for threat intelligence and blocking solutions. Since Confiant was offering a free trial, we implemented the solution to verify our suspicions about ad threat activities.

After about a month or so, the statistics verified that the negative ad activities were being blocked by the Confiant solution, which resulted in the elimination of most of the issues as well as the complaints. All of the redirects, escalated email requests for extended weekend and holiday support to resolve ad-based attacks (when the threats are most active) all stopped.

“The solution allowed our Ad Tech team to set our own thresholds on quality issues like heavy ads, in-banner video and other parameters that affect site performance.” In that way, we could optimize our site load times without losing revenues and deliver the premium user experience that our team and the brands we represent expect. Those adjustable capabilities in the solution were another major factor in our decision making.



  • All forced redirects, phishing scams and other dangerous ads were blocked by Confiant
  • The ad tech team could set parameters on ad quality issues to optimize performance
  • User experience was significantly improved
  • Escalated complaint emails for extended ad tech support all stopped

Confiant has always designed our solution as something that can act on a publisher’s behalf, which requires that the publisher is in the “drivers’ seat”. Our solution provides the information, insights and controls so the publisher can act on the information if they want to.

Louis-David “LD” Mangin

Co-Founder & CEO, Confiant

So now that you are several months after implementation, what is your feedback?

We are very pleased with our Confiant Customer Success (CS) manager, who has been a great support to us. He checks in on us regularly. I’ve spoken with a couple of other pubs who have the same CS and they speak highly of him as well. Confiant provides detailed Quarterly Business Reports (QBR) which tell us the state of the industry as well as the state of our own sites. I’ve gotten flags about issues or attacks like “eGobbler” as it was happening, indicating that the issue was already being blocked by Confiant before it was allowed to appear on our site, protecting our users.

It feels more like a partnership than a client-vendor relationship. That definitely goes a long way in this industry. When there are lots of different vendors trying to grab for publisher’s business, that type of “white glove” service makes a difference.


Watch the full interview here


  • Detection and blocking of ads with security or quality violations
  • Ability to adjust thresholds for quality issues like heavy ads or in-banner video ads
  • Reporting and alerts on the "state of our Complex site" and the "state of the industry" as well
  • White glove customer service and account management


Request a trial and see how it feels to have Confiant on your side.