Actually making sure a brand’s online ad was seen by a human is a constant battle in the industry, with activity that generates fake ad impressions, ad fraud, all around us. The industry is constantly striving to combat this issue.
However, Duncan Trigg, vice president of advertising effectiveness at analytical marketing company ComScore, believes the chances of eliminating ad fraud completely are virtually non-existent.
“It’s utterly endemic,” he told B&T. “It’s multifaceted and there is a huge variety of what effectively constitutes ad fraud. If you’re talking about activity that is designed in its nature to fraud the advertiser, then it’s endemic. It’s up to 40 per cent plus within the digital market.
“We are never going to defeat it because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that has highly intelligent people working within it, but there’s a lot that can be done to steady it.
“I don’t think we ever will [beat it] because there’s billions and billions of dollars being taken out of the market. It will always evolve and it will always become more intelligent. But to say that it is sorted is complete misnomer. It is by no means sorted.”
Integral Ad Science defines ad fraud as “the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user”.
There are many issues that fall under the ‘ad fraud’ umbrella; how much of the ad is seen, whether it’s seen by a human or not, where the ad ends up on the Internet from programmatic and the like, however Trigg believes they are all morphing into one.
“The whole area of verification has started off very much looking at brand safety and then viewability reared its head and everybody concentrated on viewability,” he said. “And certainly the last 18 months it’s been the scale of non-human traffic.
“But the reality of the situation is that they’re all morphing into a single entity and a lot of fraud crosses the boundaries.
“Bots, for example, are now able to replicate not just serving in advertising above and below the fold, but they can even scroll and impact on dwell time as well.”
However, ComScore’s Trigg said it’s important to not underestimate the amount that can be done in the space already.
“There’s still an enormous amount of unsophisticated fraud being bought and sold in market that the use of tools…can do a huge amount to cut out.”
It’s not an issue of not having the tools available though, rather Trigg suggested it’s due to brands and companies not employing them. ComScore offers a solution called Industry Trust which enables a more authentic approach to programmatic transactions.
As per the ComScore site, Industry Trust is explained as “a multi-phase initiative designed to enable trusted programmatic transactions of quality advertising between buyers and sellers. It offers a proactive way to elevate quality inventory and create a trusted marketplace that better serves the ecosystem”.
The issue in the industry at the moment, said Trigg, is that there are solutions that tackle the various different areas of ad fraud, and yet there isn’t one entity where you can get all the information.
“I think the answer now is tools like Industry Trust that we’re offering in market are comprehensive,” explained Trigg. “The issue is much more to do with how and who adopts them within the marketplace, because they are highly disruptive in what they uncover and that in turn therefore affects everyone’s business model in the whole ecosystem.
“It is much more to do with the politics of business models and margins than it is to do with the fact that the tools don’t exist out there to help it.”