How to Fight Digital Ad Fraud - A Practical Guide
The fight against digital ad fraud is important to everyone in the advertising, marketing and media industries. Since the first banner ad ran in 1994, digital advertising has shown unprecedented growth, now exceeding $50 Billion in the U.S. alone. Sustaining this growth can and will be impacted by the specter of ad fraud, which is estimated to total anywhere from 10 percent to more than 40 percent of the total impressions delivered in the marketplace.
It's clear as to why fraudsters are targeting digital media. Ad fraud is lucrative, relatively easy to commit and, to-date, has gone unpunished by both U.S. and international authorities.
That's the bad news. The good news is we have the tools and the technologies to help thwart digital ad fraud today.
Here are some practical steps for digital buyers and sellers that will help fight ad fraud now.
1. Monitor Marketing in Real Time. It's easy and inexpensive to use ad fraud monitoring services to ensure that the impressions you are buying and selling are fraud-free. It's smart business too, because fraud-free impressions will perform better. Fraud-free campaigns mean marketers will continue to reinvest in what works and publishers will be able to charge more for their superior inventory. The real-time monitoring component of this statement is equally important. Fraudsters tend to move around from site to site and from device to device. This suggests that one-time audits and tactics like whitelists and blacklists are less than effective. What counts most are recency, constant vigilance and a superior fraud detection service.
2. Don't Fall for a Deal That's Too Good to Be True. Beware of media deals or traffic offers that seem way below going market rates. For example, if online video CPMs are averaging $20/CPM and you are presented with an offer for $2/CPM inventory, there's a good chance that it's dirty inventory. Similarly, publishers who buy cheap traffic at the end of the month to ensure monthly guarantees can be pretty well-guaranteed that this traffic is suspect. There are some bargains in life, but hugely discounted media bargains are rare and often represent nothing but scams.
3. Insist on Transparency. Now, transparency is a word that's thrown around a lot in the digital marketing world. With respect to ad fraud, it means understanding what you are buying, from whom, at what price and how this inventory scores for fraud/risk before, during and after the campaign is run. Use this approach and it will go a long way toward ending the cycle of ad fraud that exists in the current digital media ecosystem.
4. Join In. There's a movement within the key advertising trade organizations to end ad fraud. Most recently, a joint initiative among the DMA, IAB, AAAA and ANA has been formed to end digital ad fraud as we know it. So if you are a marketer, publisher, agency or ad tech player and you are not a member of one of these organizations, do join at least one of them today. As an industry, this is a problem we can address and help solve now.