In 2016, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia published a report claiming ad fraud was almost non-existent in the Australian digital advertising ecosystem. The numbers showed that about 4% of $7.4 billion was being lost to fraudulent activities. In 2017, another report released by the industry body suggested a further decline in fake traffic.

Now, 4% is by no means insignificant since the number translates to more than a quarter of a billion dollars in wasted ad spend. However, new research by independent cybersecurity and ad fraud expert, Dr Augustine Fou notes that the number is nowhere close to reality. According to Dr Fou, it isn’t a case of lowered instances of ad fraud, but that ad fraud is going largely undetected.

“Advertisers are hurt when their digital ad dollars are not delivering a return (e.g. when their ads are shown to bots and not humans). Publishers are hurt when revenue is stolen before it reaches their pockets. Everyone else in the supply chain is hurt because the data they buy and sell is completely messed up due to fraudulent activity”, added Dr Fou during a recent interview.

A report by Juniper Research further predicts that at the current rate, companies could be losing advertising dollars to the tune of $44 billion by 2022.

Ad Fraud $44 Billion lost by 2022

While IAB Australia recently announced that it has begun working with major Australian publishers, agencies and tech vendors to implement Ads.txt (an initiative to bring transparency), marketers and advertisers can take proactive steps to mitigate the risk of a possible scam. Here are some key recommendations for ensuring brand safety when buying media inventory.

1. Dive deep into data – look at traffic sources and other available stats

Digging into data and making sense of it all could be a time-consuming affair for brands and advertisers. However, in doing so, marketers could quickly make practical use of the information and turn it into their front-line of defence for preventing fraud.

Ad fraud experts suggest monitoring web-traffic and IP address logs for suspicious patterns. Traffic-related data could be beneficial in exposing issues concerning fake traffic from bots and competitors. Additionally, perusing through stats like click rates or site times can help you watch out for potentially dubious actions. This is critical if you notice that expensive campaigns are yielding dismal results.

2. Bring in third parties to audit ad performance

There is a huge conflict of interest when vendors measure data and also transact on that basis. Be sure to work with trusted third parties to audit ad performance data. This will provide you with the transparency you need to see if your ad campaigns are effective and efficient.

3. Choose to pay for action, not just for traffic

While the current measures for ad performance are mostly related to traffic, clicks and impressions — we believe brands and advertisers need to step away from this old model and instead measure what matters most to them, i.e. tangible business results backed by real-user actions.

At Impelus, we are a digital customer acquisition company. With our proprietary customer acquisition engine, we generate and deliver high-quality customer leads (not traffic) directly for our clients, across industries, globally, on a pay per lead basis. This helps them scale, grow and exceed their business objectives.

Learn how working with Impelus can help you steer clear of the worry of ad fraud and other industry grievances such as brand safety, transparency and marketing wastage to name a few!