How To Reverse The Rising Tide Of Ad Fraud

Advertisers, globally, could be defrauded of USD 16.4 billion in 2017 alone. The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region is also subject to the challenges of ad fraud. To combat this, The&Partnership, m/SIX and Adloox have published a report laying out the steps the industry needs to take to reverse the rising tide of advertising fraud.

The ‘What Happens Next: How to Reverse the Rising Tide of Ad Fraud’ report was commissioned by The&Partnership and m/SIX last year, and carried out over a period of 12 months by fraud detection specialists Adloox.

The study suggests that the global cost of advertising fraud may until now have been significantly under-reported. Previously believed to cost advertisers USD 7.2 billion globally each year, Adloox’ figures show the real cost of ad fraud may have been as high as USD 12.48 billion in 2016 – accounting for almost 20 percent of the USD 66 billion spent on digital advertising.

In 2017, if advertising expenditure grows to USD 80 billion as forecast by eMarketer, and advertising fraud continues to evolve at its current rate, this figure may be set to rise to USD 16.4 billion.

“These figures serve as a stark reminder that much still remains to be done in order to protect and nurture the future vitality of the digital economy. We have a duty to come together as an industry – from media agencies and industry bodies, to big-platform players like Google and Facebook; bringing in government help if we need it – in order to protect our own future and those of our clients,” said The&Partnership’s Founder Johnny Hornby.

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Mr Hornby acknowledged that “good work” is already being done by many including the ANA, IAB, ISBA and the IPA, as well as the recent combined efforts of TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group) in the US and JICWEB (the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards) in the UK. “But these new figures show that we need to move further, much faster. And there are concrete steps we should all be taking to make that happen,” he added.

As a first step, Mr Hornby called on media agencies to “invest time, energy and talent into providing the best possible strategies and policies to protect their clients.”

The&Partnership’s media agency m/SIX has since it was founded taken a specialist interest in advertising fraud, and has a policy of requiring all its clients to invest in specialist third-party, pre-bid ad verification such as that provided by Adloox – which has been shown to reduce the risk of fraudulent placements from 12-15 percent to 1-2 percent.

“Together with Adloox, we have reduced the average ad fraud score for clients including Vitality, JUST EAT, TalkTalk, Virgin Money and News UK down to just 0.4 percent – so it can be done. And it’s good to see many other reputable agencies have taken the same stance – refusing to buy media for their clients unless they have robust pre-bid ad verification policies in place,” said Mr Hornby.

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Responsibility Beyond Agencies
Marketers too need to be willing to get themselves off cheap digital media options and invest in brand protection. The report suggests that the big-platform players such as Google and Facebook need to step up to the plate and engage with initiatives like those launched by TAG and JICWEBS. They also need to put better preventative measures in place to ensure that offensive and politically inflammatory content – beyond the wider debate about whether it should be published at all – is not and cannot become ad-enabled.

“Finally, the time has come for the Googles and Facebooks to stop marking their own homework, and allow specialist, third-party auditors inside their walled gardens – to verify the viewability, non-human traffic and brand safety scores they send back to clients. Only then will we truly break the back of the ad fraud problem,” Mr Hornby said.

The ‘What Happens Next’ report was conducted by Adloox across 200 billion daily bid requests and 10 billion ad impressions per month, over a period of 12 months.

“New, increasingly sophisticated types of ad fraud are popping up daily – and our investigation shows the importance of investing in specialist, robust brand protection. Advertising fraud is the bank robbery of the digital age – and it needs to be dealt with as such. Unless the industry takes concrete steps to combat it, it poses a serious threat to the future of our industry. Only through a combination of constant human vigilance, corporate diligence and constant updates to ad verification technologies will it be possible to reverse the rising tide, and put a stop to ad fraud once and for all,” said Marco Ricci, CEO of Adloox.

Adloox is accredited by the Media Ratings Council (MRC) for all general and advanced categories of invalid desktop traffic covered by the measurement watchdog.

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