AdFraud!

Fraud has well and truly made it’s way into the advertising world and it’s not only our banking details that are targets. Malware is tiggering multiple events through our advertising ecosystems without discriminating between targets in the supply chain: performance, attribution, reach & frequency. Whatever your KPIs none are immune and marketing budgets are getting drained across the board. 

Yes it’s a big problem

ANA and Whiteops 2015 study puts the adfraud problem at between $250K and $42M annually for each of the 49 study participants, the average is $10M. Estimates for 2015 put global loses at $6.3B and $7.2B for 2016 across the industry. WoW! Crime clearly does pay and by the looks of things marketing budgets of the Fortune 500 are footing the bill. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about. Now our budgets are literally being stolen by criminals. 

No one is immune

The unfortunate reality is that it’s not going to be one of those problems that can get fixed and forgotten about. Current advertising and marketing technology and the systems in place that are designed to prevent this kind of fraudulent activity are in a veritable arms race against a very sophisticated enemy. Some tell tale signs are easier to spot than others but no one appears to be immune and everyone is a victim to varying degrees.  

It’s not easy to spot

The cyber criminals are using many and varied techniques to evade detection. Replaying human behavior, copying cookies, spoofing IP addresses to name a few, that we know about. This problem won’t be solved with a single solution. Blacklisting and whitelisting approaches are woefully inadequate and data science will only go part of the way. 

How do marketers even begin to address this?

It starts with transparency.  

  1. Don’t assume it isn’t happening in your campaigns. Acknowledge that everyone with a marketing budget is a target, the size of the target depends on the size of the budget and you need to take proactive steps towards resolution or the problem will only get bigger.
  2. Set expectations with vendors in your media supply chain that you will only pay for non-bot and viewable traffic. Introduce specific terms and conditions into your insertion orders and terms and conditions such as that suggested by Reed Smith (the ANA’s outside legal counsel).
  3. Request granular transparency from your suppliers. If you have a  good data strategy in place already then this is already being taken care of. Ensure you’re gathering the data captured outside your company at the event not aggregate level.
  4. Analyze the data. With all the data coming inhouse your data scientists and experts are in an ideal position to interpret the data for fraud, viewability, performance, attribution, geography etc.