[A version of this article originally appeared in MediaPost.]
The wild west days of digital advertising must become a thing of the past. Players need to demand accountability, transparency and standardization across the industry to combat massive amounts of wasted time and money due to fraud. How big is the problem? Last year, advertisers saw bot rates as high as 37%, up from 22% in 2014. In short: the problem is intensifying.
The solution has to be preventative and each member of our ecosystem must play an active role. So how do we do that? There are a few key areas of focus we believe can lead to a better system for everyone.
The only way to cut off the air supply for these fraudulent actors is for the industry as a whole to agree to a standard methodology for eliminating fraud and determining who is accountable for finding the bad actors. If you discover that a particular exchange continues to do business with a bad actor, even though you’ve notified them and shown them evidence, you need to end that relationship.
Each player in the equation can contribute to a healthier ecosystem by doing their part. For example, the exchange, with the most access and control of all, should monitor new publishers signing up, leverage 3rd party fraud monitoring and monitor for suspicious activity with internal tools as well. If the exchange is alerted to an issue, then that publisher should be denied payment or issued late payment until the problem is rectified. They should be able to openly share their internal processes and systems and their current rate of risk (i.e. fraudulent users and pages) with their clients (DSPs and advertisers/agencies).
The publisher should also have rules, regulations and monitoring in place, as well as tools that prevent and monitor fraud levels and bot activity. Publishers should ensure their traffic acquisition team is held accountable and only buys inventory from trusted sources by leveraging inventory quality technology to sample their buys. Also, publishers should track and scrub their own users to make sure they’re real people.
The demand-side platform (DSP) should ensure they are representing quality advertisers who actually serve the ad they’ve declared (and don’t hide behind sneaky tactics). The DSP also must ensure that ads from their clients don’t contain malware; that they deliver the ad creative as requested by the publisher (ie: sound on or off); and that they deliver the advertiser identified (not a redirect to some unknown advertiser).
DSPs also have a responsibility to share information with their exchange partners (ie: abnormal click activity) that links back to a specific publisher. That partnership between DSP and exchange will add yet another layer of protection for marketers.
The advertiser is responsible for ensuring they’re building and managing reputable ad creatives. For advertisers to help combat fraud, they should also monitor post-campaign, focusing on where they’re serving ads and looking at the price points. For example, clients of Turn can see transparently where their ads were served. Finally, advertisers should be rational about pricing when setting up their campaigns. You can’t expect to get quality pre-roll, viewable video inventory at an an extremely low, single-digit CPM. If you only focus on reach at the lowest cost, there’s a good chance you are feeding fraudsters’ bank accounts.
Engaging in Partnerships
When choosing inventory partners, it’s about quality, not quantity. Turn has held ad exchanges to our inventory guidelines for years now. We monitor our partner exchanges through technology and through internal teams and if necessary will block specific sellers and publishers. We’ve even paused or terminated exchanges that were unable to provide the level of quality our customers deserve.
When choosing inventory quality vendors, you need to make sure you’ve tested the technology but also the people. As fraud morphs to find new ways of sneaking money out of our ecosystem — the technology will have to change as well. So ensure that your inventory quality partnerships have a similar philosophy to you, your business and your clients, and that they’re staffed for human monitoring, product innovation and client support. Turn chose to partner closely with DoubleVerify and have integrated their fraud solution throughout our entire Platform, globally. Beyond the tech – our teams partner closely on training, monitoring & reporting and client support.
After partnerships are established, you can find a balance. We want to make sure we’re not overanalyzing every impression to the point that we’re screeching to a halt. DoubleVerify had the scale and speed we needed to be able to ensure advertisers are protected while allowing them to benefit from the scale and customization we’ve all come to love from Programmatic.
Setting Guidelines and Managing Expectations
We insist on accountability by getting to know who our partners are and who they work with. Make sure that no matter where you sit in the ecosystem—publisher, exchange, marketer or agency—that you talk to your partners and vendors and set clear expectations.
These aren’t one-time fixes that you can set up and ignore. Inventory quality is foundational to the success of our industry. We all must act as good stewards so that we can continue to see massive growth in digital advertising.
Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tremor International, a collection of brands built to unite creativity, data and technology across the open internet.
If you’re curious to learn more, watch the on-demand demo or take a deep dive into our Research & Insights section where you can find recent webinars on-demand, media plan insights & activation templates, and more data-driven content. If you’re ready to take the next step into a sustainable, consumer-first advertising future, contact us today.
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