This first appeared in BizReport.
As ad fraud continues to rise, publishers are pushing back, fighting against fraudsters and bots, Here's how one company is fighting back.
Kristina: Ad fraud is such a broad topic - what is ad fraud to you and how does it impact your customers?
Spencer Scott, Head of Media Platforms, PCH/Media: Ad fraud occurs when an advertiser is misled into paying for something that is essentially worthless to them. This can come in the form of fake traffic, clicks or leads and can even include poor ad placement, where the ad has no chance of being seen. Fraud is a huge issue plaguing the digital advertising industry. According to Forrester, ad fraud led to an estimated loss of $7.4 billion in fraudulent display ad activity in 2016 alone. Forrester estimates that this number will grow to $10.9 billion by 2021 if immediate steps are not taken to address this problem. Ad fraud impacts advertisers on multiple fronts. Not only is there the obvious in terms of money lost, but fraud accounts for a substantial number of lost hours in developing and implementing marketing campaigns. Ad fraud can include bot traffic, click farms, fake impressions and clicks, as well as video fraud. Every fraudulent click or impression represents ad dollars wasted, and those dollars add up quickly. Our customers expect to get the most out of their advertising budgets and rely upon their ads being seen by legitimate sales prospects that have a positive effect on the company's bottom line.
Kristina: What steps can publishers take to ensure they're fighting bot-generated traffic?
Spencer: Monitoring is the key to fighting bot-generated traffic. Publishers must take a multistep approach to monitoring for fraudulent traffic and malware. This takes a significant investment - in both technology and the manpower - but is necessary to monitor traffic around the clock. To be effective, traffic should be scanned by both internal and third-party MRC certified tools. It's critical that they reside on all pages, tracking IP addresses and the quality of the traffic, so publishers can then validate site traffic and ensure ads are being seen by real people. Although a significant investment, it is necessary for publishers to deliver a quality product to their customers.
Kristina: How can brands ensure the publishers they're working with are high-quality?
Spencer: Brands should look to work with publishers that act as a partner in their advertising efforts. One way brands can identify high-quality publishers is based on the quality of data and transparency offered into their ad campaigns. High-quality publishers should offer real data and viewability into how ads are preforming and what audiences the ads are being placed in front of. If a publisher doesn't provide these types of insights, there may be an issue. Total transparency is key to running a successful advertising campaign. Additionally, brands should look for publishers that are able to prove they are taking tangible steps to fight ad fraud though industry accreditations and certifications like TAG, IAB and MRC.
Kristina: How does data and targeting play a role in this?
Spencer: Data and targeting play a big role in combating ad fraud. When advertisers use data to better target and position their ads in front of the right audiences, their exposure to ad fraud reduces dramatically, all the while increasing the effectiveness of ads. Accurate data also allows for advertisers to optimize their ads based on data collected from a campaign. For example, if an ad is targeting 18-35-year-old women, but the data shows the ad is preforming well among 40-year-old women, advertisers can then optimize the campaign to better position ads in front of the correct audience.