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June 18, 2015, Article

Article

Battling the Bots: Four Essential Weapons for Marketers

Read on Digital Market Asia

Ad fraud is jeopardising the integrity of programmatic trading and its prevention is critical to the success of the digital advertising ecosystem as a whole. Marketers in the region have a steep learning curve ahead when it comes to protecting themselves and their brands in the fight against ad fraud.

The industry’s understanding of ad fraud varies significantly across the globe. While America leads the charge, the rest of the world has yet to catch up. In APAC, the understanding and conversations around ad fraud is more advanced in markets like Australia. For example, key Australian industry players have banded together to form the local IAB chapter’s Brand Safety Council. Whereas, in less regulated markets like China, practices to combat fraud have only just emerged despite being a serious industry-wide issue.

Ad fraud is expected to cost advertisers USD 6.3 billion globally this year. Reducing this figure requires the industry to take a collaborative stand against the issue. Last year Kraft, a food and beverages giant,started taking a tougher stance on ad fraud. It claims to reject up to 85 per cent of digital ad impressions it receives due to concerns over quality. Fraudulent bots mimic the behaviour of legitimate, interested consumers and results in billions of wasted impressions. Bots are now so sophisticated they may even be retargeted or whitelisted. As the fight against ad fraud continues, what preventative steps should marketers be taking?

Know your fraud challenge
To successfully fight ad fraud, marketers need to understand how and why it occurs. This is challenging as fraud comes in many forms and is constantly evolving. Common types of ad fraud such as impression, click and conversion fraud mostly stem from bot traffic, fraudulent websites and ad manipulation. Knowing types of fraud that exist allows marketers to start acknowledging the problem and find the right solutions to resolve it.

Invest in and use technology
Powerful software that uses algorithms to scan for suspicious activity can be extremely effective at identifying and filtering fraud in real time. A recent ANA/WhiteOps report indicated that impressions shown to bots tend to exhibit a greater level of viewability than impressions shown to humans. If the performance look too good to be true, they probably are. Patterns that do not fit with realistic human activity can easily be picked up by analytic software. As such technologies already exist, marketers should seek to understand which solutions suit their needs best and start investing in them.

Demand for higher transparency
It is important to work with partners that operate strict controls over publisher inventory. This may include pre-screening of inventory lists and blanket exclusion of undesirable publishers, websites, and categories. However, the responsibility ultimately lies on marketers to understand where their ads are running on. Bot fraud often occurs when publishers buy third-party traffic and therefore transparency around sourced traffic is essential. Marketers should always ask for domain reports and full visibility on where their advertising campaigns are running.

Evaluate campaign results
Marketers should strive to develop a thorough understanding of the economics of ad fraud. For instance, marketers who analyse conversion quantity and quality from differing solutions and publishers will be able to determine appropriate benchmarks which can help to optimise the use of ad fraud technologies. Through analysis of performance reports, they can discover how ad fraud impacts their marketing success, business and reputation.

Programmatic is now an essential element in the digital media equation. The benefits far outweigh the risks associated with fraud. Eschewing programmatic is no longer an option. By understanding ad fraud, working with trusted partners and implementing the right technology, marketers across Asia and the world can continue to reap the rewards of programmatic while working towards a fraud-free future.

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