With digital ad spend growth comes more fraud

thiefThere’s little doubt that 2019 is going to be another blockbuster year for digital advertising. Research firm eMarketer is forecasting a 17 percent lift to digital ad revenues for 2019, with advertisers spending more than $325 billion.

Yet the more advertisers seem to spend, the bigger ad fraud seems to become. We’ve discussed fraud previously, particularly as it relates to digital ad networks. In 2018, ad fraud grew significantly, and as mobile applications on the rise, a new type of ad fraud appears to be growing as well.

So what exactly does that mean? Basically, fraudsters spoof popular apps containing malicious software that connect to ad networks and serve up hidden or invisible ads, thus earning money for the publisher while the advertiser is falsely led to believe their ad was shown but is charged for the fraudulent impressions. Additionally, mobile advertisers have to contend with fake apps with bots designed to simulate ad clicks, driving up costs for advertisers.  All of these actions are designed to part advertisers with their money while not delivering the promised impressions. And most of it happens so far under the radar that it’s difficult for advertisers to know if their ads are being run fraudulently or if they’re simply not working.

Luckily, the industry is working on a variety of solutions. For one, mobile ad exchange InMobie is working with ad quality authenticator DoubleVerify to develop fraud identification and filtering tools for mobile in-app ads. The IAB is also working to develop a technology that will allow platforms and publishers to be marked as authorized to sell ad inventory, in theory giving a sort of seal of approval for buying ads on their platforms. Of course, it’s also incumbent on mobile apps stores (i.e. Google and Apple, but not exclusively) to properly vet, monitor, and stop in-app fraud.

For advertisers, though, there doesn’t seem to be a lot they can do. As mentioned above, it’s very challenging for advertisers to distinguish between fraudulent and real clicks or impressions. That’s why it’s important to turn to some technical solutions, such as DoubleVerify mentioned above. Another way to prevent fraud is working only with ad networks that are already known to have good reputations. Avoid any networks that seems suspicious; if an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.

Of course, we’re always here to help! We can audit your previous ad buys not only for potential fraudulent traffic, activities, or impressions, but also to identify ways in which you can make your ad dollars work harder for you. Contact us to get started!


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