Quick Q&A - Ad Fraud

Posted on Tuesday 01 February 2022

Read our quick Q&A on ad fraud.

What is it?

Advertising fraud can take several different forms, but each involve the creation of illegitimate, non-human traffic (bots) to deliberately attempt to extract money from advertising budgets. 

There are a number of ways fraudsters create advertising fraud, including using crawlers masquerading as genuine users, hijacking a user’s device or browser, hijacking ad-tags and stuffing multiple ads into one placement, amongst others. Further information on the definitions of different types of ad fraud that can be committed can be found in the JICWEBS UK Traffic Taxonomy for Digital Display Advertising.

Who does it affect?

Fraudulent activity can have a detrimental impact on the entire advertising value chain. 

If you are an advertiser, fraudulent clicks on your digital campaign wastes budget that you intended to use to reach your audience. It also may make it seem as if your advertising is performing more effectively than it is. 

If you are an adtech supplier and fraud is being facilitated by your technology, you will be liable for rebates or refunds to your advertisers and their agencies – and may even be removed from media plans. 

If you are a publisher, your business model is being compromised by fraudulent activity and if detected on your inventory will damage the reputation of your brand.

With a free and open Internet-reliant on revenues generated by advertising, it is important that the entire value chain, along with industry associations like IAB, JICWEBS, etc, work together to minimise the risk of advertising fraud.

How is the IAB working with industry to address this? 

As a founding partner of JICWEBS, IAB UK contributes to the Good Practice Principles for minimising the risk of advertising fraud. Earlier this year the first companies were independently audited and certificated for how their processes reduce the risk of fraudulent online ads being served. We are actively encouraging more members to complete this process. 

When will things change?

Advertising fraud is a lucrative source of revenue for organised crime, is relatively difficult to detect and has a lighter sentencing risk, relative to other forms of crime. As a result, those who propagate this form of illegal activity will continue to employ ever-more sophisticated methods to defraud the advertising industry.

That being said, as a greater number of technology companies become more proactive in detecting and eliminating fraud from their ecosystem, it will become increasingly difficult for this crime to be committed. 

At present, we have seen the buy-side, particularly Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) take the lead here, but we are now starting to see Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) and Exchanges also take similar steps. 

We are also starting to see the anti-fraud measurement vendors move from only providing retrospective measurement of fraud – which only allows for media make-goods and the fraud to continue to propagate – to also detecting fraud pre-bid, which allows for its more effective removal.

Where can I find out more? 

Further information on the audit work JICWEBS is undertaking to combat fraud can be found here

The JICWEBS UK Traffic Taxonomy can be found here.

Email any questions or comments you have to [email protected]


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