Late last year, WhiteOps announced the discovery of what it described as a "massive and sophisticated fraud operation" that was allegedly siphoning up to $5 million a day in fraudulent impressions from falsified residential IP addresses. This news prompted huge media interest -- to start. But after the initial report and investigation, several big ad-tech platform companies looked at their own data and determined that the impact, to them at least, was … minimal.
Over the years, smart companies in the ad-tech space have become adept at identifying and rejecting potentially fraudulent impressions. They've accomplished this by making investments in technology and developing partnerships with fraud-prevention specialists and organizations to help see to it that customers' advertising dollars are being spent effectively and responsibly. So while the so-called MethBot perpetrators used sophisticated techniques to make fraudulent impressions look legitimate, they couldn't fool a lot all of the technology out there into thinking they were real consumers.
These smart companies coordinate their efforts through initiatives and organizations like the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a cross-industry accountability program that creates transparency across the ad-tech industry. TAG is giving companies who have the processes, technology, and relationships to counter ad fraud, and offers accreditation to companies for the anti-fraud measures they take. Those companies that are not taking steps to address fraud may be the ones taking responsibility for the $5 million a day that WhiteOps claims was spent on MethBot impressions. So, as a brand, what can you do to ensure the companies you are working with are trusted partners and fighting ad fraud for your -- and their -- benefit? Here are a few things we can all think about:
How do these companies answer these questions?
- Do you receive full transparency in where your ads were served after your campaign runs?
- Does your partner have someone dedicated full time in the inventory quality role?
- Does your partner build their own technology to prevent fraud?
- Can your partner work with you to effectively set up your campaign with goals that avoid fraud?
- Are these companies listed on TAG's page of certified companies?
- Are you using a third party, such as Integral Ad Science, to monitor your campaigns?
Trust isn't created with a single action; it's earned and maintained. The industry's work isn't done, and building a safe advertising ecosystem requires ongoing attention. We must continue to fight fraud through technologies that adapt to evolving fraud techniques and develop partnerships that help us work together to protect the customers we share.