The Ad Fraud Challenge For Publishers And How To Overcome It

Digital advertising is now one of the biggest consumers of marketing spends. That’s not surprising since the web is where the people are! 

Nearly 60% of the global population, or approximately 4.66 billion people worldwide, had access to the internet at the beginning of 2021. 

This is the “universe” brands want to exploit by tying up with channels and content publishers with considerable digital viewership. For publishers, the revenue potential is massive. If they can engage and grow an audience with quality content and drive organic traffic to their websites, they offer an attractive opportunity for brands. Brands with an eye on that audience will look to partner with them and advertise on the site.

However, not everything is silky smooth in the world of digital advertising. 

While growth prospects are immense, publishers must tackle particular challenges to ensure returns for themselves and the advertisers. In 2020, a global study on search click advertising trends, which covered nearly 100 billion data points from across different advertising categories, found that almost 83% of advertisers experienced a considerable amount of fraudulent activity in their accounts. The frauds ranged from invalid search clicks to fraudulent display and video advertisement clicks. Termed as Invalid Traffic (IVT) or Non-Human Traffic (NHT), this is becoming the bane of the digital advertising industry. Estimates are that such practices made publishers in the industry lose billions of dollars in potential advertising revenue. Brands of all sizes are at risk here. For instance, even an SMB could lose an average of nearly USD 14,900 due to click fraud. 

There is mounting pressure on publishers to find and keep ad fraud under check or risk losing their prestigious spot in ad visibility ratings. So, how can publishers tackle and overcome the ad fraud challenge? 

Here are three tips on how publishers can ensure genuine ad click transactions and trustworthy ROI for advertisers:

Identify faster

In most cases, the signs of ad fraud are very evident if publishers look in the right place at the right time. For example, if there is a barrage of clicks on ads displayed on your website with minimal conversion at the target website, like a shopping link, it could be an indicator of ad fraud. The clicks or views that happened could be from bots that were trained to retarget ad clicks. These are “views” that are logged without being actually viewed by a prospective human visitor. 

Keep an eye out in situations where there is high traffic for clicks but minimal or no conversions. The faster these signs are identified, the better for publishers. They need to have proactive monitoring of the ad ecosystem in their website. They must ensure that suspicious behavior is tracked and addressed at the earliest without causing losses for advertisers who partner with them.

Leverage technology

Manually tackling ad fraud is impossible today. Fraudsters have access to powerful tools and automation platforms that are beyond manual tracking and redressal. In fact, fraudsters can now also break conventional fraud prevention firewalls and security protocols. While publishers may not have the in-house technical expertise to build new tools that protect their revenue streams from ad frauds, they can partner with 3rd party ad fraud prevention tools and vendors to create a secure ecosystem for their advertisers. 

Modern ad fraud prevention tools use advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to detect suspicious behavior of ad traffic. These powerful tools can alert the stakeholders about the presence of malicious actors in their ad landscape and help in eliminating these risks.

Voice for standards in digital advertising

Unfortunately, the digital advertising sector is still in its infancy regarding unified standards and protocols that govern the flow of ads through ad exchanges. The opaque rules and “go it alone” attitude of some of the largest platforms like the social media giants has created a fragmented and complex landscape that is open to exploitation by bad actors. It is important for publishers to raise awareness of the need to standardize information exchange and transactional processes in digital advertising. This will help ad exchanges, ad fraud prevention platform providers, and all relevant stakeholders build innovative solutions that gel well with different layers of digital advertising. A collaborative effort in this regard is necessary to ensure a sustainable and fraud-free environment for advertisers. This will also help in creating best practices that everyone can follow in the digital advertising value chain.
We are living in a fast-evolving digital economy where, for every USD 3 that an advertiser spends on digital advertising, as much as USD 1 may be ending up with fraudsters. The ripple effect of this issue hurts the economic opportunity of the digital advertising industry to the tune of tens of billions of dollars every single year. Hence publishers need to do their part in setting up a pro-active defense against ad fraud with the latest technology, encouraging best practices, voicing for unified standards and protocols in digital ad information exchanges, and thinking ahead of fraudsters to stay alert. Get in touch with us to explore how your publishing business can be safeguarded from ad fraud and be assured of successful ad relationships with advertisers.