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Ad fraud and brand safety: are you prepared?

Artan Hawke

What is ad fraud?
Ad fraud refers to fraudulent impressions that have no potential to be seen by a human user. The issue comes from networks of infected computers, known as botnets. They mimic human activity so it looks as though a person is ‘viewing’ an ad. Fraudsters can either sell this bot-generated traffic to online publishers or place digital ads on websites that only viewed by bots.ad-fraud-example-300x261
In extreme cases, ad fraud can result in losing 20% of a display budget to impressions served to none-humans. This is a growing problem within the industry at an estimated cost of $7.2bn.

However, the problems do not stop there. The next most common method that fraudsters use besides bots is called ‘ad stacking’. As the name implies, this is a case of stacking multiple ads on top of each other, to which only the top ad is visible to a real user. The advertisers are then charged for all the other ad spots as they count as an impression.

What is brand safety?
Brand safety is another growing area in the digital landscape. It is important for brands and advertisers to use the right tools to ensure ads are not appearing on websites that might be detrimental to a brand, such as adult content, hate speech and drugs etc.

Brand safety technology works by scanning a website to review inbound and outbound links, URL analysis, image meta data, semantic analysis and page meta data to determine if the site falls under any of the brand safety categories an advertiser may have opted to exclude.

All Response Media Viewpoint

We are constantly reviewing and investing in new technology to ensure we are at the forefront of ad fraud and brand safety. Over the last couple of months, we have seen our ad fraud level decrease to under 0.8% of total impressions (above industry average). We also use pre-bid technology to determine if the impression we are bidding for will be visible to a human, rather than invisible (ad stacking or a bot).

It is imperative to invest in brand safety technology that allows us to scan a page based on the content and assign that to a brand safety category. This ensures that ads will not be visible on pages that could be detrimental to the brand and it helps improve performance from a direct response perspective by not appearing on these sites.

Brand safety and fraud are constantly evolving. As such, there is a continuous drive to seek out new technology to combat the latest methods fraudsters use, and to ensure ads are not appearing on websites that could be harmful to the advertiser’s business.

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