Blog / October 18, 2017

Getting Ahead of Fraud

By Brett Sanderson

It has certainly been a challenging year for marketers, starting with the Methbot issue that defrauded advertisers out of a whopping $180 million in estimated video ad spend.

In response to this issue and other brewing concerns, P&G’s Marc Pritchard declared a “call to arms” for transparency in digital advertising. He asserted that P&G “will work with and buy media only from the entities that comply… because we don’t want to waste time and money on a crappy media supply chain”, stressing that “any entity touching digital media must get TAG-certified during 2017 to help ensure they are free from fraud.”

Then, there were huge concerns when advertisers realized that many of their ads were running alongside offensive videos on YouTube, resulting in major brands pulling their ad spend from the platform.

Facing content challenges as well, Facebook ultimately hired third-party fact-checking organizations and 3,000 additional human moderators to more closely monitor and remove harmful, violent and inappropriate content.

For marketers, these issues have only exacerbated the need to ensure that their precious advertising dollars are spent on viewable, fraud-free, and brand-safe placements – and to nobody’s surprise, it’s not an easy task.

An Increasingly Complex Challenge

Fraud remains to be a major issue in the digital marketing industry, as an estimated $6.5 billion globally will be lost in 2017 due to fraud issues. Unfortunately, video marketing is even more susceptible to fraud as it’s a higher spend channel. Looking at the numbers, 22 percent of all video advertising is fraudulent compared to only 9 percent in display advertising.

Many marketers may think of bots as the primary issue, but Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) is on the rise, and fraud can happen on the ID and domain level through a growing number of advanced techniques:

  • Ad injections
  • Adware and malware
  • Click farms and incentivized browsing
  • Cookie stuffing, recycling, or harvesting
  • Domain spoofing
  • Hijacked devices, sessions, or tags
  • Location data manipulation
  • Measurement falsification
  • Performance and install fraud
  • Viewable impression decision falsification
  • and many more

Strategies for Prevention

With many major brands following P&G’s lead, TAG certification has become an absolute necessity. However, getting certified is easier said than done. In order to become TAG Certified Against Fraud, there is a formidable gauntlet of specifications that must be met regarding the programmatic technology used to automate the buying and selling of media. This includes, but is not limited to, pre-bid blocking on every single ad impression served in accordance with MRC Invalid Traffic Guidelines (IVT), domain list and data center IP filtering against TAG’s database of known threats, and implementing the TAG payment ID protocol which verifies that the inventory you’ve bought is actually from the original, reputable source.

Marketing technology companies who are fully compliant with these specifications, such as Eyeview, receive the “TAG Certified Against Fraud” seal, as a sign of their unwavering commitment to combatting fraudulent, non-human traffic in the digital advertising supply chain.

Eyeview is fully integrated with multiple leading, third-party, MRC-accredited partners to accomplish pre-bid fraud and brand safety blocking. Pre-bid blocking allows for the proactive prevention of bidding on impressions that could be served in fraudulent or unsafe environments. On the flip side, post-bid blocking is more of a reactive approach where ad spend may have already wasted by bidding on unsavory impressions, but the ad is blocked from actually being served.

For a recent campaign, Eyeview saw the rate of authentic ads (non-fraudulent and brand safe) increase significantly, simply by implementing pre-bid blocking. With pre-bid fraud and brand safety blocking now enacted on every single video impression that Eyeview delivers, we are proud to provide a 99% fraud-free guarantee to our clients.

Other proactive partners have taken Mr. Pritchard’s “call to arms” seriously too, with The Trade Desk and White Ops announcing global pre-bid blocking at scale. Though others still seem to be indifferent to these growing concerns and therefore lag behind. As such, it’s critical to find out if your partners are fighting the good fight against fraudsters with all of the means that are readily available to them today.

What’s Next

Our industry’s reliance on programmatic ad buying over the past several years has realized many benefits in terms of scale and automation, yet it has naturally led to more challenges with regard to quality and efficiency. First in display and now in video, we are seeing a marked improvement in the industry’s response with a greater focus on technology to combat these issues, providing marketers with the assurance that their budgets aren’t being wasted. P&G cut $140 million in ad spend and it had zero effect on their overall bottom line. In fact, their sales actually rose. By removing waste, they were able to achieve greater activation efficiency.

Making sure that you actually get what you pay for in terms of media quality has undoubtedly been a challenge dominating industry conversations this year. Delivering an ad impression to a real person should be basic table stakes, though it’s essential not to lose focus on the end goal of driving business outcomes. Marketers need to demand accountability from their partners to reach the right audience while measuring delivery and performance accurately. While the next wave of technological advancement will continue to focus on combatting verification issues, we will see even an even greater focus on video marketing that drives stronger performance with accountability.

Learn more about Eyeview’s Verification Suite.

Brett Sanderson

More about the author

Brett Sanderson Senior Manager, Product Marketing
 

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