What are you doing about ad fraud?

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According to The Guardian, 60% of online advertising spending is going to fraudsters. Even if you don’t believe that (I do), suppose it was just 20%? Wouldn’t you want to do something about that? I mean, it’s as if I asked you if you would like a 20% budget increase. Yes, right?

Ad fraud is similar to a lot of problems out there. It’s human nature to ignore problems that we don’t know how to solve–after all, why upset yourself over problems beyond your control? I see this every day when marketers ignore their issues in site search. They know their site search is terrible, but they don’t dwell on it because they don’t think it can be fixed. When I explain to them that we know what to do, then they suddenly let down their guard and deal with it.

Ad fraud is similar. Most large advertisers have outsourced their advertising budget to ad exchanges or to agencies working with ad exchanges–they aren’t actively managing their campaigns. So they don’t want to hear it when you tell them there’s 60% ad fraud. Not because they actually don’t believe it, but because they don’t know what to do about it. They want to have confidence in the ad exchanges and they certainly want to believe in their agencies.

But the problem has to be solved by advertisers, because they are the ones getting scammed. The ad exchanges benefit from every fraudulent ad, because they take their cut. Same with the agencies. The person paying over twice as much for each meaningful ad impression is the advertiser. I spoke to Augustine Fou, my go-to person on this subject, an he shared some tips with me. He mentioned that most existing ad fraud technologies are being outflanked by scammers, but he provided some of the tips below.

So, what is an advertiser to do?

  • You can drop programmatic ads. This is not an option for most advertisers, because they need the traffic. But for some, they can re-invest the savings into tactics that drive a lot more traffic to their websites. But that isn’t very likely. Most need to continue programmatic, but without the fraud.
  • Examine your website metrics carefully. Look at traffic data hourly, not daily. Daily numbers might have been compiled in a few hours, rather than being distributed normally over the course of the day. Stay alert and spot the fraud.
  • Examine your analytics beyond traffic. Look for engagement, and especially conversion. Bots don’t actually buy anything.
  • Segment your conversions by ad exchange. The ones that are bringing you the most traffic are the ones that you need to take care of. Notice which ones are sending no converting traffic. They are the ones to blacklist from your campaign.

What’s stopping you from tackling head fraud head on? 60% is a lot.

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