Ad Fraud: A Problem We Can Solve

Ad Fraud: A Problem We Can Solve
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In this opinion piece, MediaMath country manager Yun Yip (pictured below), explains how adtech platforms can make some serious inroads in cleaning up the industry.

Yun Yip

Ad fraud is a major concern in the media industry, being rated as anything between a mild annoyance to the very death knell of programmatic advertising, depending where one sits on the issue. From the perspective of platform providers, it is certainly an issue and one that is being taken very seriously.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently put out figures to suggest that around four per cent of Australia’s seven-and-a-half-billion-dollar digital advertising industry is lost to fraudulent activity. In the larger global market, that dollar figure is estimated to be more than US$7 billion lost – almost the equivalent of the entire industry in Australia. Beyond financial losses, what is even more valuable and can’t be measured is the loss of trust within the industry. It then becomes very evident that ad fraud is indeed a concern and steps must be taken to address the issue.

Looking within

While industry bodies work on achieving a set of common operating standards, adtech platforms have the power to get on board and make serious inroads into cleaning up the industry.

As part of the industry’s efforts to curb ad fraud, IAB’s ads.txt initiative, for example, gives content owners the power to deny access to fraudulent and spoofing sites. Ads.txt provides a curated marketplace of authorised sellers, rather than an open market, and gives buyers the power to shut out counterfeit inventory.

While platforms are now integrating this initiative across their supply footprint, adoption is still slow. For a publisher, removing part of the market is a potentially costly exercise and marketers ultimately want to reach as many potential customers as possible. The balance lies between a market that is more trustworthy and an industry that has much to gain from optimising buyer experiences.

Data to right the wrongs

At the same time, marketers need to have a strong company-wide position on what constitutes their strategy and a trusted source. It is incumbent upon marketers to understand exactly who they are targeting, know where to find those consumers, and have a clearly defined set of target inventory that matches their interests.

The knowledge of who the audience is, what they are interested in, and what they’ve browsed recently has clearly been enhanced by big data. The same concept can then be applied to avoiding fraudulent inventory by leveraging algorithms that ensure an ad runs alongside authentic content that is most relevant to a brand and is being viewed by human consumers.

Working with programmatic platforms and brand safety vendors, the more the ecosystem pulls in the same direction to curb fraud, the closer the market will come to be a safe place for marketers to project their brand image.

Transparency is the way forward

The final piece of the puzzle is transparency as a key directive towards rebuilding trust. From a media perspective, if a marketer is investing resources to hit the right audience at the right time, they should be able to see where, how, and why the media is being run.

An ad tech platform needs to constantly evolve, fostering a key focus on data and algorithms to find the true power of programmatic. Openness is also essential in ensuring the future productivity of programmatic marketing, allowing marketers and brands to easily see what is driving the results behind their campaign.

The right environment exists. It is a now a matter of marketers defining what they want from their campaigns, finding trusted platforms and agencies that carry the right technology, and understanding that the effective use of data will result in better meeting campaign objectives.

Therefore, it falls back on programmatic vendors to work with marketers, providing them with the right technology pieces they require to meet their end goals.

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