Fraud was the hot topic last week, with AdWeek, AdExchanger, and paidContent all reporting on the most suspicious publishers on the web. At Integral, we’ve understood the importance of this issue for some time now. We were the first to uncover a click fraud ring in early 2011, and have been developing actionable suspicious activity solutions for over a year.
We see over 2 billion impressions a day and as part of our recent Semiannual Report, our research shows:
- 20% of impressions are highly suspicious of being fraudulent
- 30% of impressions in exchange-traded media are highly suspicious of fraud
Recent press has raised a lot of awareness about suspicious activity and as an industry we need to act now – with both the buy-side and sell-side able to contribute to the solution.
We need to do more than creating blacklists, calling out fraudulent actors, and reporting after the fact. In the case of blacklists, once they are published they are easily and quickly circumvented with new sites and methods. Even worse are the companies that are disclosing the exact methods used to detect this activity, basically giving out a blueprint on how to get better at avoiding detection.
The most challenging problem regarding fraudulent activity is that the campaigns that are affected by it appear to perform very well. These ads are being gamed in two ways. They’re being clicked programmatically. If a marketer is measuring the effectiveness of a campaign by clicks, these ads will appear to perform well. Frequently, they’re placed in such a way that they’re going to get a lot of last-touch credit, so if the campaign is being measured by CPA, they’re going to perform very well because, although they’re not driving sales, they’re going to get credit for those sales by being the last ad served before a purchase. It’s a bulk-buying, cookie-bombing technique.
Because our industry measures success using these two KPIs (click or CPA), when they solve for fraud, they see their numbers go down. If sellers solve for fraud, it seems that they aren’t running campaigns as successfully as their clicks, conversions, impressions and/or acquisition credit rates drop so dramatically. Buyers move on to better “performing” competitors. Rather than risk losing valuable customers, many on the sell side sit idle. Buyers need to measure and reward safe and quality advertising environments so that the sell-side can begin to clean up their inventory.
As mentioned, we’ve had the only actionable solution since July 2012, when we launched our suspicious activity rating and it has become an established and trusted solution for our clients. Furthermore, it is the only predictive solution for both click and impression fraud available pre-bid in RTB. It is currently the only proactive method in the market to avoid fraud in a scaled and automated way. Our solution is essential to all platforms aiming to provide quality media.