Online ad fraud is an expensive business! Year on year, ad dollars are lost to fraudulent traffic and the urgency of ensuring content is seen by human eyes has been building to a crescendo. More needs to be done to rapidly elevate the discussion of verification and viewability standards that work holistically for every segment across the digital landscape.
According to the IAB and PwC, 20% of advertising spend is traded programmatically. This is no surprise. Programmatic enables brands to reach the most relevant audiences effectively and at scale. The challenging downside is that an increase in scale is mirrored by an increase in vulnerability to fraud.
The Association of National Advertisers has revealed that the industry is set to lose more than $6 billion to ad fraud this year. The industry needs to work together to share data and grow knowledge so susceptibility to fraud can be kept to a minimum. Collaboration and transparency need to become standard practice in order for brands to realise ROI.
Honesty is crucial, too. Both in-house and agency-side marketers need to acknowledge the damage that disparate reporting can trigger. Previously, those on both the supply and demand side have self-reported figures based on their own standards and models, which has resulted in haphazard methodologies and reporting discrepancies. Unsurprisingly, questionable practices and fraud have entered the industry. By working together, learning from data and best practices, and then arriving at a universal standard, we can boost the integrity of the entire digital ecosystem.
Halting the Bots
Providing standardized guidelines is critical, but it’s just one part of the puzzle. Bots that plague advertisers are sophisticated, but they can be beaten with the right technology. Their ability to mimic human behaviour makes them difficult to detect but not impossible to eliminate. Advancements in third-party technology tracking platforms and media providers are essential, and fraud can be tackled head on by filtering traffic before it enters the marketplace. We’re eliminating nearly 21% traffic in our marketplace before it reaches our buyers when all filters are counted.
Brands will see sustainable ROI from mobile, video and desktop when fraudulent assets are removed. Improving traffic quality and cutting out fraudulent traffic will eliminate waste and encourage confident buying, but as fraud techniques become increasingly more sophisticated, detection technologies must innovate with them. We’ve developed post-bid fraud detection to make sure the pre-bid URL matches the post-bid URL. Generally, our technology is a programmatic way of seeing where a consumer clicks or timing data.
The industry is demanding robust verification and accurate advertising ratings, which is good news. Recent progress in online ad viewability is encouraging but more needs to be done before a unified verification standard is accepted by the industry globally. The first step has been taken, as we have a consensus on what must happen - it now remains for us to see it through.
Achieving greater transparency and accountability for viewability metrics is an ongoing effort, and the industry has been getting closer to that goal with every innovation. As a community, we must have the confidence to continue testing, learning, developing and embracing new solutions.
Our advice to the industry is:
- Make collaboration and transparency standard practice so brands can realize ROI;
- Work together to share data and knowledge so fraud can be kept to a minimum; and
- Remain honest whether in house or agency side – disparate reporting can trigger damage.