The digital advertising ecosystem is crumbling at the hands of ad fraud

05/11 By Niall Hogan
People shadows

Imagine taking your client out for dinner only to have your credit card declined when the bill comes. Now that’s embarrassing, if you’re not prepared. A smart person has backup cards and some cash to make sure that the bill is paid. In digital advertising, publishers are getting into embarrassing situations much like this when they don’t take a proactive stance against ad fraud.

Here’s why. Ad fraud is a major problem affecting the entire digital advertising ecosystem. The issue has become front of mind for advertisers who are now scrutinising their spend; ensuring their budget is being spent intelligently and that real people see their ads. As they take action to prevent fraud on the buy side, they are expecting their publisher partners to do the same.

Serving ads to bots has consequences for both buy and sell side. It may get a publisher added to an exclusion list, which wipes out their entire inventory from being bought. In this dire scenario, a publisher is not even able to monetise their good inventory. Another possibility is that advertisers who are using cutting-edge technology will block their ads from running on sites with suspicious activity and will eliminate select publishers from future campaigns. Either way, a publisher’s reputation can be placed at significant risk thanks to ad fraud.

By taking pre-emptive measures and using a fraud detection and prevention technology to eliminate fraud, a publisher’s inventory becomes more valuable. Demand for fraud prevention is increasing as advertisers are becoming more educated on the risks of fraudulent activity. As such, valuable and fraud-free ads command higher price points. Publishers who are proactive about blocking bots and serve only legitimate inventory will achieve higher market value for their ads.

Reputable premium publishers can be victims of fraud too. Bots have a way of targeting premium sites that do not buy traffic. They do this by imitating the surfing habits of valuable and expensive target audiences, like new car shoppers. These bots visit reputable and relevant sites because in doing so, they can attract a higher value when they visit sites paying for their traffic. Bearing this in mind, it can be almost impossible for a publisher to identify bot traffic on their site unless they are using technology to identify it.

Ultimately, if we all turn a blind eye to ad fraud, it will damage the reputation of and hit the revenues of the digital advertising industry as a whole. If we all seek to take a proactive stance we will see the rewards across the entire digital advertising ecosystem.

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