Ad Fraud


Fraud has been a problem since the very beginning of online advertising - possibly never more so than with the advent of programmatic. It stands to reason that when personal relationships in buying and selling are reduced or eliminated, and more intermediaries are introduced, there is inevitably less visibility and less accountability.

Consequently, ad fraud has become more than a 7 billion dollar issue. One of the key drivers behind the growing problem is brand marketers. As they turned to programmatic, the industry became less focused on the conversions and response metrics favoured by direct marketers, and more focused on those metrics easier for fraudsters to produce (such as simple impressions). Audits and spot checks do reveal an issue with fraud, but the typical marketer’s response (often coached by their agencies or ad networks) is “we should expect a level of fraud”- many are willing to accept known fraud rates as high as 10%, because compared to what they used to buy, the perceived ROI is so much higher.

As a consequence, ad networks aren’t doing enough to weed out fraudulent impressions - partly because advertisers aren’t demanding it and partly because it costs money in detection, auditing, and lost ad revenue. In fact, until recently, the pervasive metrics by which brands have been measuring agencies and ad-networks almost encourage cheap, poor quality inventory for brand campaigns.

As brands begin to seek efficiencies in programmatic, and commit more budget, the fraud - whether 1% or 10% - becomes more significant. As brands have become increasingly familiar with programmatic and the levels of exposure increase, they are beginning to challenge their partners and look for metrics that offer better insights and data that can give a better picture of whether ads are actually getting seen, levels of brand safety and how realistic click data is.

To find out more about programmatic, download All Grown Up: Brands' Journey to Programmatic Maturity.

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