Ad Fraud & Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising created the opportunity for marketers to achieve huge reach and target audiences with ease, but it also opened the door to large-scale fraud within the automated mechanism. Because advertisers frequently target audience, without close consideration of the sites on which ads are served, they oftentimes show up on irrelevant and fraudulent sites. This blog discusses how focusing on ad placement can avoid ad fraud as a byproduct.
The State of Ad Fraud
According to AppNexus, ad fraud and website verification is the second leading reason advertisers chose not to advertise programmatically.
In 2017, 1 in 5 ad-serving websites were visited exclusively by fraud bots (ANA & WhiteOps). As of 2016, ad fraud was the second largest organized crime behind drug trade, and it is estimated to cost advertisers $50 billion by 2025. Furthermore, Kristin Lemkau, CMO for JPMorgan Chase, estimates that “Loss [in ad spend] due to ad fraud was $7.2 billion last year, and it is projected to reach $16.4 billion this year.”
In 2015, the Association of National Advertisers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau created the Trustworthy Accountability Group to act as a stamp of approval for ad sellers, with which all of IAB’s members must register. In 2017, President & CEO of IAB Randall Rothenberg told AdAge, “We can’t deal with this shit anymore. This is serious.”
How To Identify Ad Fraud
To understand how to identify fraud, Ratko Vidakovic explains the warning signs in this MarketingLand article. These include:
- Low performance
- Poor on-site analytics
- Data center IP-addresses
- Abnormally high CTRs
- Suspicious site lists
These are a few things to look for when making sense of your campaigns. But in order to do so, you need a clear view of where your ads are showing up to determine what sites to avoid.
Know where your ads are placed
Using data to gather this clear view is imperative considering the scale at which programmatic advertising operates. Within programmatic advertising, it’s easy to simply check the boxes of audiences you’d like to target, and let the machine do the thinking for you. But given the assumptive nature of these audiences, and fraudsters’ ability to outthink fraud detecting algorithms, it is increasingly important to access your ad campaigns’ metrics with full transparency - to take a close (and manual) look at where your ads are actually showing up to ensure performance.
Many DSPs don't make it easy to access the exact placements of each of your ads. So it is important to look to third-party technology partners to identify which websites actually drive your campaign performance - and selectively advertise here.
Ads are constantly placed in rather irrelevant context, a clear symptom of advertisers not paying close enough attention to ad placement. Does it really make sense for a fishing trip ad to be seen on a diapers website? Not really. But this happens all the time when advertisers solely target audiences, and let the programmatic machine do the rest of the thinking.
Use data to gather a clear view of ad delivery
Forbes offers a list of 12 steps advertisers can take to avert the risks of ad fraud. From manually auditing campaign metrics to demanding transparency from your adtech vendors, all the recommendations come down to knowing where your ads are showing up, and using the right partners to help you do so.
There are plenty of platforms out there that help identify the best websites to target for high performance. But it doesn't seem that advertisers have considered ad placement seriously enough to know they need better placement solutions.
For more on the benefits of controlling your ads' placements, see The Importance of DJT in Display Advertising.