Jump the Moat between Online Customers and Your Brand

At a recent meeting I learned about the advertising search engine Moat.com. It was recommended as a good place to see when and where clients’ ads were showing. The site and its additional analytics features were founded by brothers Jonah and Noah Goodhart, and their friend Michael Walrath. Their creation has two sides: Moat Ad Search and Moat Brand Analytics. The first is a free search engine and the second is a paid service Moat offers to help their clients improve online branding efforts.

Moat’s Ad Search is exactly how it sounds – a search engine for display ads. Walrath and the Goodhart brothers realized years ago that there was no easy way to find display ads once you left the page where you had seen them. To remedy this problem they created Moat.com, which uses an ad-content-focused web crawler to collect online ads. All a user has to do is go to the homepage, enter a brand, and mouse over the results to see what ads are showing when and where. Ads that show in the results have either been gathered by the web crawler or submitted by advertisers. Submitting ads is free, and the site assures that companies appearing in its search results do not endorse Moat.com.


The site’s paid option includes much more than a sample of where display ads are showing. The full package is an advanced version that measures consumer interaction with online advertising. One of the best features is a heat map showing where users moved their mouse over an ad and where they clicked on it.

The pro version includes basic metrics such as viewable impressions (also called in-view impressions), in-view time, interaction rate, and interaction time; and their brand-focused metrics including hover rate, attention quality, and time to scroll. There are six main features: Flexible Search that allows the client to search for any publisher, advertiser, or tag; a Creative Gallery that shows all creative for any brand; a Share of Voice Report that compares advertisers and creates custom reports; Tag Details that show tags and associated third party services; a Mock Tool, which allows you to mock-up an ad on any site; and the Moat Top 100 Advertisers – a list that shows an overview of the current online advertising landscape. These features are included with support from Moat to improve the client’s online branding efforts.

Although these features are great for companies that are looking for pure branding opportunities, they’re not why I use Moat.com. I only use the site’s basic search function. Once a week I search my clients’ brands to see what ads are appearing and where. I also check for potential negative keywords and placements. For example, I work with Clarks® who sell shoes, but frequently pest control ads show as well, so I’ve learned to add pest control negatives to the account. I also use the tool to research other brands. When I want to understand a company’s messaging I use Moat.com to preview ads and placements. After this brief search I understand their advertising goals and positioning.

Moat’s full service is a great tool for those companies focused on online branding as an extension of their overall marketing efforts. Their search site is useful to those looking to monitor both their own advertising as well as that of their competitors and the overall industry.


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