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How to avoid ad fraud in programmatic media

How to avoid ad fraud in programmatic media Dean Harris

You've probably heard the old expression that says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's attributed to Benjamin Franklin, a renaissance man of the 18th Century who had no idea that his wisdom on the subject of health would be important for the 21st Century programmatic media market. Let me explain.
 
For those of us who have been observing the development of the digital media market, it's pretty clear that much of its growth is being driven by programmatic innovations. Quite simply, programmatic lets buyers reach a larger pool of sellers more efficiently. In this case efficiency means faster transactions conducted by machines working 24/7 with no time off for vacations, meals, and bio breaks.
 
The number of impressions being processed through RTB is staggering and the speed of an RTB transaction (200 milliseconds) is quite remarkable. Yet the speed and the volume of the process can lead to questions of abuse. With this abuse becoming an increasing part of the digital media buying and selling landscape, it's something agencies and marketers are dealing with every day.
 
This is not to imply that there is more fraud in programmatic versus non- programmatic buying and selling.


What we can say is that there is technology to help reduce ad fraud in the programmatic stack quite effectively.
 
Here are two ways you can do it right now: 
 
You can score impressions for risk in the pre-bid stream. This is a pretty simple statement, but it's quite hard to do technically. Currently, you're looking at more than 1 trillion bid requests monthly and are scoring every one of them for fraud risk. For the potential buyer of an impression the data provided offers a very binary decision: Should I bid on this impression or not? If you bid and subsequently buy a fraudulent impression, it's never going to do anything positive for your business. It's never going to get anyone to buy anything nor influence them to buy something in the future. What's more, if you buy that bad impression you also may decide to re-target it at an even higher CPM than you paid originally. This is like throwing good money after bad.  Or as Ben Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the most interest."
 
Speaking of knowledge, tagging ads can offer even greater insights into ad fraud. Clearly, you can't factor in things like device forensics or ad stacking in the pre-bid. So tagging provides you with a much richer set of information. With the data you get after an impression is served, you'll catch even more fraud and then use the knowledge so that you won't make the same mistake twice.
 
Programmatic media buying and selling is going to become a larger part of the digital media equation. What's encouraging is that it's an equation where companies can subtract useless, fraudulent impressions. This can be accomplished with available technology that's very easy to implement and inexpensive to use.


To pull it all together, eliminating ad fraud from the digital ecosystem is good for everyone (except for the fraudsters). Marketers will get better results from their digital investment and will spend more on what works. Publishers will get improved results from their fraud free inventory leading to greater demand and higher CPMs. Plus, programmatic sellers who deliver fraud free inventory will benefit from a more robust, better valued marketplace. It all adds up to significant savings, better ROI and can lead to dramatically better results today.


So here's the new age expression: Invest money on fraud free media that delivers better ROI. Invest more money. Sell more. Repeat.


Dean Harris is chief marketing officer at Forensiq


On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Once a CMO, almost always a CMO. 2010- present CMO of NewCo, Irvine, CA 2008- 2009 CMO of kgb, NY, NY 2006-2007, CEO of Piggyback Publishing, NY, NY 2006 CMO, Kayak.com, CT 2002-2006- CMO, Vonage, Edison, NJ 2000-2001 CMO, CarDay, New York, NY...

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Commenter: Kris Crawford

2015, February 25

Malware in the ad tech industry challenges the entire ecosystem from advertiser to ad network/exchange to publisher. Admittedly, the ad tech industry plays a central role in the propagation of malware in the online and mobile advertising ecosystem, however, this fact is not ignored by responsible industry players who fiercely combat it every day. From establishing working groups to creating "good ad” certifications to performing extensive due diligence on buyer clients, the industry works hard to tackle the presence of malware head on. In fact, many of largest, most-visited websites actively scan their advertisements to identify and remove anomalous vectors before it morphs and becomes an overt malware drop. Unfortunately, a few ad-based malware vectors get through, but that number is miniscule in comparison to the billions of ads rendered every day.