Ad Fraud: F-word in Digital Advertising

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bumps-on-f-and-jWhen reading headlines about digital ad fraud, you’d have to conclude ad fraud is the F-word in Digital Advertising. But the reality? The dirty little secret is that there are too many stakeholders in the digital ecosystem making money for it to significantly improve anytime soon. Before we hope to solve ad fraud, we need to better understand how ad fraud is defined and how to combat it with the available tools.

What is Ad Fraud? Ad fraud is defined as the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user.

Ad fraud costs the industry $8.2 billion a year in the U.S. alone, according to the IAB. As advertising budgets keep shifting to digital, fraudsters have found ways to game the system and earn money by serving ads in ways that have no potential to be seen by a real person. Needless to say, this has a negative effect on the entire advertising community. Whether it’s illegal bot activity, fraudulent URLs, or specific page-level fraud, there are ways to protect yourself and campaign against fraud.

Common Steps Against Ad Fraud:

Some demand-side vendors take several measures to ensure the quality of the sites they are serving on and to minimize the risk of fraudulent or non-viewable traffic.

  • All sites that serve advertisements on are monitored for suspicious click activity, both manually and systematically.
  • All previously detected “bad” IPs, sites and Users IDs is blocked at the exchange level.
  • Offenders are added to a Global Block List, removed from our Supply Vendors list, and reported.
  • Also, some vendors have a default block list automatically incorporated into all campaigns, which is compiled both at the ad network and platform (i.e., Choozle) level to include sites with unseemly content, poor performance, etc. to keep inventory quality high.

Additional Action You Can Take:

  • Site placements are fully transparent and available to clients, which allows users to monitor activity and create advertiser-specific block lists using these site placements on underperforming sites or sites they don’t want to be on.
  •  Also use 3rd party services, such as Peer39 or Integral, in our 3rd party tracking option within the creative field.

In the end, we hate fraud, in all its many forms. Both vendors and marketers want to make sure ads are served by real publishers and shown to real humans and the right target audiences — all to maximize ROI for both buyers and sellers.