11/26 Von Niall Hogan

UK | ISBA: Don’t Believe the Hype

If you have read the trade press recently, you will no doubt be thinking that robots have taken over digital advertising and that everything sane about using this marketing channel has gone to pot. You will also no doubt be feeling bewildered about what is happening to your marketing budget and the potential waste that is being reported by these fraudulent practices. I don’t blame you, I would too. We spend our money in good faith, and the least that we should expect is a fair transactional environment.

Headlines such as „60% of Mercedes ads served to bots“, that ran in the Financial Times this summer, catch the eye! They are supposed to. But can as much as 60% of digital impression really be generated by bots and not humans? And that the cost of this is being passed onto unwitting advertisers?

Let’s be honest with each other. There is a fraud issue within the digital advertising space, just like there was with click-fraud in the Search space around 2002/2003, but the good news is that the problem is nowhere near as big as some people would like to have you believe.

We see over 30bn impressions every month, so we feel very confident that we have robust data. We do not see a 50% or 60% fraud problem. It is closer to around the 13% mark for display and 15% for video according to Integral Ad Science Q4 2014 Media Quality Report. Of course, these are averages, and we see these numbers increase on networks and exchanges, due mainly to the absence of direct trading and a move towards more programmatic channels. This is to be expected, as you remove the human element from the equation, you give the fraudsters more opportunities to operate.

I am not for one minute suggesting that these numbers are acceptable, and we need to work hard to remove this wastage from digital campaigns and mitigate the risk of digital ad fraud.

So why do some people highlight such high fraudulent numbers? If you were being cynical, you would say to sell products or services. Maybe. However, the real answer is more likely to be all to do with the technology being used and the ability to determine if an impression is fraudulent or not.

Not all technology is the same.  Some vendors see one impression on a website and brand the whole domain or website as fraudulent. Imagine if that one bad impression was on a site as big as The Daily Mail – you would be dismissing a site with over 70 million impressions every day as a fraudulent site, and removing millions of good impressions with the one bad fraudulent impression.

This response to the fraud problem is no good for genuine publishers or advertisers, as it has the potential to restrict the supply chain and over inflates the real issue.

We do have a problem with fraud, and it is important that we remove this wastage from digital trading, but it’s not the 60% that some people would like you to believe.

If we are going to improve this situation, it is important that marketers and their agencies work with credible vendors who have the technology that understands that this is an impression level issue and who can help you reduce wastage by blocking ads served to the Fraudsters and help you target your ads and advertising revenue to those genuine publisher that are working hard on your behalf to help you reach your campaign goals.

Read more here.