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Guest Post: Understanding Ad Fraud & How We Can Tackle It

by Amobee, December 07, 2015

Turn partner Grapeshot dives in on ad fraud – Zak Pollak explains what defines ad fraud and how marketers can combat it.

Digital media has an enormous problem, a problem to the tune of $8.2 billion dollars. Digital ad fraud has robbed agencies, brands, publishers, and ad tech partners of revenue and credibility. Fraud has become a massive problem in our industry and has only grown over the last several years. So, what can be done about it?

First, let’s define what digital ad fraud means. According to a recent study from the IAB and Ernst and Young titled “What Is An Untrustworthy Supply Chain Costing the Digital Advertising Industry?” digital ad fraud comes in three flavors:

  1. Invalid Traffic, or traffic coming from non-human entities on the web. Fraudsters have built out robots that can crawl the web, click, hover, and “view” ads, as well as have a human-like cookie signature. These fraud-bots will act as close to human as possible so that audience buying platforms will place high bids to serve them ads. These ads will serve on fraudster’s sites custom built to appear non-fraudulent but visited almost exclusively to their fraud-bots.
  2. Infringed content – content lifted from legitimate publishers and served on a fraudster’s site. The ad revenue from visits or video views (either by humans or fraud-bots) will go straight into the fraudster’s coffer, rather than to the rightful owner of the content.
  3. Malware, in which fraud software is unwittingly installed on users’ computers or mobile devices. As our industry became more wary of fraud digital fraudsters became more cleaver. Fraud-bots visiting the internet from IP addresses of actual humans obfuscate their malicious aims: it’s more difficult to detect a machine hosting a fraud-bot if the behavior coming from the machine is from a human some of the time.

The problem is clear: through illegal means techy thieves are stealing billions of dollars from agencies, brands, DSPs, DMPs, and publishers. So what can a single buyer do about it?

First, media buyers must set realistic KPIs. A 40% CTR or a 95% viewability score are probably not tenable metrics for any campaign. Look into brand and industry benchmarks on relevant metrics and scrutinize buys that look fishy.

Buyers need to set realistic targeting choices. I can promise you there are not 2 million auto-intender millennials in the greater Minneapolis area. Many fraud-bots are heavily cookied, and while DMPs are getting better and better at removing non-humans from their cookie pools, targeting multiple cookie pools at once increases the ratio of fraud-bots to humans targeted.

Media buyers should look into working with one of the many anti-fraud ad tech companies in the marketplace. Their work along with industry wide initiatives such as The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) help stop the problem. Brands and agencies should investigate what tactics and partners work best for their needs.

Finally, buyers will benefit by working with a brand safety partner. Along with the benefit of only buying impressions in brand safe environments, they help cut down on the number of impressions that would need to be vetted against fraud.

The work being done by TAG and anti-fraud technology firms is only as good as the players in the digital media industry. Abiding by best practices and buying with a healthy skepticism will help pull the plug on fraud-bots for good.


About Amobee

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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