The battle against ad fraud is everyone’s responsibility and advertisers have much to gain from efforts to improve transparency, says Morden Chen.
Marketers all know that the digital advertising landscape is rife with many challenges, each harboring the potential to hinder campaigns from achieving desired goals and objectives. While marketing teams are well-aware of issues like ad fraud and the lack of transparency, it’s concerning to note that many seem to have accepted these industry problems as part and parcel of doing business. In fact, it’s not uncommon for misdirected ads to go unnoticed for extended periods of time.
Alas, combatting the pitfalls of digital and mobile advertising isn’t a straightforward mission and marketers already have their hands full managing a plethora of other equally, if not more important issues like privacy.
But businesses cannot, and should not overlook the potential consequences. According to the latest estimates by Juniper Research, digital advertising spend lost to fraud will reach $68 billion globally in 2022; a whopping USD 11 billion increase from 2021.
Indeed, with so many roadblocks in the way, how can marketing teams really ensure that their ad spend is properly invested and that campaigns are optimized?
Transparency holds the key
There are three key areas that are typically considered when organizations decide on where to place advertisements – ad fraud, brand safety, and the ability to control, manage, and optimize live ads. And across all factors, transparency is critical to prevent advertiser trust from being compromised. Without transparency, advertisers won’t know what they’re buying and where they’re buying from. Perhaps most importantly, they also won’t have access to valuable data to inform their strategies.
Indeed, having insights into the effectiveness of an ad can make all the difference to a strategy and campaign’s success. Only when brands are equipped with solid feedback on their ad’s performance, are they then able to adapt their marketing strategies accordingly and make flexible corrections that are data-led.
For instance, visibility into where every impression lands. With log-level data that shows exactly where the budget is being spent (including which specific ad networks or ad publishers), marketing teams can develop strategies and optimize campaigns based on analysis of their creatives, unique impressions, and quality of traffic. Once armed with these insights, they can more accurately measure return on investment (ROI) and flag or even minimize unanticipated costs that may affect the bottom line.
“Only when brands are equipped with solid feedback on their ad’s performance, are they then able to adapt their marketing strategies accordingly and make flexible corrections that are data-led.”
Meanwhile, access to campaign management tools and levers can help advertisers to make better buying decisions and optimize outcomes from media spend and for those who work with demand-side platforms (DSPs), data from the DSP can also contribute to business intelligence, enabling advertisers to assess and predict the impact of future ad spend.
The costs and consequences
Many marketers have chosen to accept some loss as inevitable due to the many complexities involved in ad placements and campaigns. But given that the bottom line can be impacted, it is imperative for businesses to start paying attention and minimize such incidents to ensure dollars are being put into actual investments. After all, wasted ad spend isn’t the only consequence that could arise from a lack of transparency; it also makes it more difficult for advertisers to determine what quality impressions or users actually cost.
Without reliable information, creating future strategies and successful campaigns becomes an uphill battle.
Building transparency together
It’s clear that ad fraud is a beast that no party can eliminate on their own, and they shouldn’t have to. Instead, different players in the ecosystem must strive to work together with complete transparency to eradicate fraud in the landscape. For a start, these are some steps that should be taken:
- Identifying compromised devices – advertisers should work with publishers and ad networks to detect ads that are running on jailbroken devices, emulators, or rooted devices
- Keep a blacklist – suspicious apps, IP addresses, and regions where the fraud has been identified should be blacklisted by advertisers
- Monitor user level behavior – publishers should work with ad networks and attribution partners to identify malicious behavior at the user level, recognizing suspicious mean time of install or identical click patterns
Of course, DSPs play a crucial role as the last line of defense against ad fraud. While DSPs cannot vet every participant in the real-time-bidding ecosystem, they can proactively monitor and block low-quality traffic.
While blocking low-quality traffic means that the DSP loses out on revenue from fraudulent impressions, advertisers will enjoy better results. Advertisers must hence choose a trustworthy DSP partner who will keep a lookout for suspicious attribution patterns to detect fake or late clicks, multiple clicks from a single impression, and other red flags. Not all DSPs adopt the same approach but the right partner will strive to eliminate fraud as a matter of business practice.
The battle against ad fraud is everyone’s responsibility and advertisers have much to gain from efforts to improve transparency. This includes enjoying more exposure to the right audiences, as well as insights to craft data-driven strategies and campaigns. If the various parties each commit to playing their part, we can elevate the advertising landscape together, making the entire ecosystem safer and more productive.