What marketers need to know about the schemes infiltrating ad spend
In a perfect world, every ad impression would be presented to, and viewed by, an actual human that is potentially interested in a specific product or service. Unfortunately, the programmatic ad space is rife with abuse and malicious actors perpetrating a plethora of fraud schemes preventing this from happening. This leads to wasted time, effort, and ad spend. It’s more important than ever to actively protect your brand from sneaky fraudsters, given the difficulty distinguishing between a human and a bot impression.
What exactly is ad fraud?
Ad fraud refers to any invalid impression resulting from a deliberate activity that prevents the proper delivery of ads to real people at the right time and place. This results in a financial loss for the advertiser and/or publisher.
Fraudsters fool advertising platforms with invalid traffic, clicks, impressions, and conversions via bots (or botnets) and other advanced methods, preventing ad content from being delivered to legitimate users. They are then rewarded with significant financial gain due to advertisers paying for impressions that were never actually seen by humans. In addition to the financial loss, brand reputation can also be harmed or diminished.
As bot traffic is clearly not the intended audience for advertisements, it’s typically classified as Invalid Traffic, or IVT. While IAS tracks many different types of IVT, there are two major types overall:
- General Invalid Traffic (GIVT): Traffic generated by benign crawlers or other non-malicious bots. Easily identified and filtered through basic means.
- Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT): Malicious and evasive traffic designed to circumvent protections around ad display. It’s difficult to identify and track, and requires advanced analytics, data science techniques, or direct human intervention.
The reality is that fraudsters continue to employ ever more sophisticated tactics to defraud the programmatic ad ecosystem and steal money from marketers — and those tactics are expected to continue to evolve at a rapid pace.
No market is immune to ad fraud, and it spreads across all major platforms including open web, CTV, and mobile. Some major types of ad fraud include domain spoofing, device spoofing, app spoofing, ad stacking, and more.
The true cost of ad fraud
In 2022, estimated programmatic ad fraud losses topped $80 billion USD. With programmatic ad spend expected to increase exponentially year over year, projected ad fraud losses could easily cross $100 billion USD in 2023. Combine this with significant damage to brand reputation, and you have a recipe for disaster without protection at your side.
In addition to this, ad fraud operations are commonly used as a profitable foundation for major malicious actors’ infrastructure such as DDoS botnets, ransomware, and Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups. The stakes are higher than ever when it comes to disrupting these operations and maintaining brand standing.
The silver lining? IAS can help.
Detecting and combating ad fraud is an ongoing challenge — but IAS is here to help. While most solutions rely solely on an automated check to detect any invalid traffic, IAS’s unique, three-pillar approach is powered by unmatched scale and machine learning, providing the most accurate detection and prevention.
The IAS three-pillar approach uses:
- Rules-based detection with automated rule checks to identify anomalous behavior patterns
- AI/Machine learning that uses big data to detect any hidden, uncommon patterns
- The IAS Threat Lab employs malware analysis and reverse engineering to uncover emerging threats
Paired with the filtering abilities of IAS Threat Lab, automated rule-based detection, and the power of AI and machine learning, IAS’s ad fraud product suite ensures that no fraud goes undetected to protect peace of mind while scrolling.