The IAB Believes…in tackling ad fraud head on

Posted on: Tuesday 02 August 2016

The IAB UK outlines the work currently being done with industry partners to develop technology and standards which are actively minimising fraud.

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As a key member of JICWEBS, the IAB UK chairs the Cross-Industry Anti-Fraud Commercial and Anti-Fraud Technical Groups to inform standards and guidelines in the UK to deliver the following:

  • Compiled and delivered an initial set of best practices to reduce the risk of fraud - May 2015

  • Delivered a taxonomy describing the different types of potential online ad fraud – October 2015

  • Created and published Good Practice Principles against which companies, such as publishers, agencies and ad tech providers, can be audited to verify their processes reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served – May 2016

  • Developing a certification programme to audit such businesses against these principles - to be built by the end of 2016. First companies expected to be certified early 2017

  • Currently building anti-fraud principles for fraud detection vendors to deliver transparency to the market and the need to meet a common standard – H2 2016

  • A certification programme to audit fraud detection companies against these principles to be built by end of 2016/early 2017, first certificated companies expected in 2017

The IAB continues to work to stamp out ad fraud and to ensure that the significant investment brands make in digital advertising is effective and reaches the right audience.

We stated last year that, in order to effectively deal with this ongoing threat to our industry, we must first agree what constitutes ad fraud.  

As part of this drive for more clarity, in 2015 the IAB helped to establish and chairs two Anti-Fraud Working Groups, acting under the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBs). The Commercial Group focusses on the broader commercial implications of fraud and industry measures to address and mitigate against it, whereas the Technical Group focusses on the detail of how fraud works from a technical point of view and what specific measures can be instilled to address and combat it. 

In May 2015 a document setting out initial best practices was published by JICWEBS, of which the IAB is a key constituent, as a guide for all businesses trading digital display to be aware of the risk of advertising fraud and what best practice steps they could take to mitigate this risk. 

In October 2015, JICWEBS published a taxonomy document which established common definitions and standards which distinguish between fraud and bad practice, because not all ‘non-human’ traffic is fraudulent.

In May this year, JICWEBS produced ‘Good Practice Principles’ for businesses to reduce the risk of online ad fraud, and work has begun in earnest to create a certification programme for businesses to be certified/audited against these.  

The Good Practice Principles can be used to verify which companies – and this includes publishers, agency trading desks and ad tech providers – effectively reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served. 

Those companies demonstrating that their processes apply these principles receive a certification seal and the first ones are expected to be issued by early 2017. 

Given that the aim of JICWEBS is to promote trusted digital ad trading, the taxonomy project is a key step in that process, and the IAB was fortunate enough to be able to feed into its creation in recent months.

As we work towards creating a safer, more transparent supply chain, the taxonomy serves to identify sources of non-human traffic. It describes illegitimate, non-human traffic sources and outlines when they are fraudulent. 

We are confident that our moves to educate the market, and to provide guidelines and accreditation, will result in a significant reduction in this type of crime.

However, we have also initiated discussions with the City of London Police and National Fraud Investigation Bureau in how to address and identify the perpetrators of ad fraud with a view to stopping their activities. Discussions are ongoing and we will seek to deliver more clarity in the coming months as dialogue with them progresses.

It’s in everybody’s interests – with the exception of the criminals, of course - to join us in this mission to create a more trustworthy supply chain for digital advertising, one which will contribute to the overall health of the internet, and drive trust and confidence in legitimate businesses both on and offline.

We are delivering transparency in order to deliver greater confidence to the market. Advertisers should feel reassured that the digital advertising practitioners can be certified for good practice when it comes to combatting fraud. Over the next six months, the IAB will be working with JICWEBS in the development of a certification process for specialist ad fraud detection tools. So watch this space.


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