It's well-understood that the digital ad ecosystem is awash in ad fraud, the sorts of scams where sketchy websites serve real ads to fake traffic and charge marketers actual money. But its extent has now even surprised Facebook enough for the company to kill an important project: a buying platform in Atlas, its ad server.
Facebook tested out the buying platform last year, Dave Jakubowski, head of ad tech, wrote in a blog post Monday:
There were two major takeaways:
1. We were able to deliver ads to real people with unprecedented accuracy, but came up against many bad ads and fraud (like bots). While we were fortunately able to root out the bad actors and only buy quality ads, we were amazed by the volume of valueless inventory.
2. Only two ad formats delivered significant value: native & video.
Facebook turned off 75% of the volume coming into its exchange by "turning off publishers circulating bad inventory," Mr. Jakubowski wrote.
We knew that in good conscience, we couldn't sell what Atlas and our people-based measurement told us was valueless. Unfortunately, those ads were almost certainly dumped into another low-quality exchange where all of them were most likely purchased.
Instead of pursuing the buying platform further, Facebook has rolled out product updates to help marketers better connect offline sales with online ads. Read the rest of Mr. Jakubowski's post here.