By Nichol Quest-Herelle
Money, Money, Money…Bank Fraud, Stock Exchanges, Media Fraud, Ad Exchanges…
is there a link?
What is the actual impact to our media industry when it comes to ad fraud? Has our industry become, or slowly becoming, the new ‘Lehman Brothers’ with the ‘big boys’ leading the way?
The Google’s and Facebook’s of the world… Are they eradicating Ad Fraud or setting the tone moving forwards so we don’t have a ‘media collapse’ like we had with the famous collapse of ‘the Lehman Brothers’ in 2008?
It’s all over the trade press but are we really paying attention and is this a subject we should be talking about or dismissing as part and parcel of our business?
Of late, the topic ‘Verification & Ad Fraud’ seems to be picking up trending traction and has certainly piqued our interest. Those working in the digital advertising space are no strangers to the relevant elements of Ad Fraud, which can be broadly described as “the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user…” So why does there seem to be such a buzz now, about something which could almost be called an industry standard? Could it be due to reported estimates that Ad Fraud, ’Non-human traffic or NHT (‘bots’ not extraterrestrials!), will generate losses (or gains to the fraudsters) of circa $7 billion in 2016.
One could say technological advances have allowed us all to become a little wiser! Or it could be noted that technology has replaced too much of the human requirement – to think ‘bots’ (a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the internet) are probably working on your system right now, visiting websites, clicking on ads or impressions, which are recorded, passing fake data to cover their tracks and we didn’t even know it!…. Perhaps it’s all about ‘transparency’, or lack thereof and media businesses being required to not only report on where ad budgets are spent & ad performance, but to also prove these ads have actually been seen with human eye balls (no more relying on mock ups & screen grabs)?
Whatever the reason, we should now be thinking about the ‘cause & effect’ scenarios and the reach that Ad Fraud has throughout the entire advertising industry. In monetary terms, we work within an industry that reportedly generates upwards of $400 billion each year, with trailblazing business like Facebook, Google Amazon, MSN.. (again to name but a few) pushing the boundaries in the race to be no.1., but what about the question of professional/industrial ‘Trust’ and consumer confidence?
We should promote initiatives like the IAB’s (TAG) helping to introduce new industry standards and best practices and commend companies making executive decisions to limit or cut out this fraud cancer, implement effective protocols and technologies to recognise, monitor and erase fraudulent activity and even instil a cultural ethos…..
But what next? And what will that look like?