JICWEBS publishes taxonomy of online ad fraud to tackle issue

Posted on Tuesday 01 February 2022

The UK’s Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) – the independent body that defines best practice and standards for online ad trading – has announced the next stage in the move to tackle online ad fraud.

JICWEBS has published a report describing the different types of potential online ad fraud. Titled “UK Traffic Taxonomy for Digital Display Advertising”, it follows June’s publication of an initial set of best practices to reduce the risk of exposure to fraud.

“To address such a complex topic as online ad fraud, first requires understanding what types of activity can enable it,” said JICWEBS’ Chairman Richard Foan. “Even though the taxonomy – written by our Anti-Fraud Technical Group comprising 30 businesses* – identifies 16 different malicious (possibly fraudulent) and non-malicious sources of non-human traffic, it isn’t an exhaustive list. However, it is another important step in reducing the risk of online ad fraud.”

The next step in the move to tackle online ad fraud will be reviewing companies that claim to apply the industry-agreed best practices. Those doing so will receive the JICWEBS seal confirming their processes further reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served.

Guy Phillipson, the IAB UK’s CEO, said: “We take ad fraud very seriously but most people are unaware of just how deep and complicated an issue it is. Getting cross-industry input on the definitions helps companies better understand and tackle fraud, particularly in conjunction with the best practice guidelines JICWEBS published in the summer.”

Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, the voice of British Advertisers, said: “ISBA and its members Shell, Santander, and Unilever have worked with industry partners on the JICWEBS Cross-Industry Anti-Fraud Working Group to reduce the risk to exposure to ad fraud. The Group has developed definitions, cross industry guidelines and principles which help advertisers and their partners involved in buying, selling and serving of digital display advertising, distinguish and identify fraud.

"Advertising is an ever-evolving ecosystem especially within the digital field. The fraudsters are also looking to be a step ahead of the game so this guidance will be updated as and when necessary. The objective is to restore the trust which advertisers expect across all the media channels they use, notably online, and thus restore their confidence in the channel."

Daniel Williams, Global Online Media Manager at Shell said: “As a member of the JICWEBS’ UK Cross-Industry Anti-Fraud Commercial Working Group I valued the opportunity to help distinguish and identify ad fraud. Helping the wider market and making digital display advertising a more trusted environment is something which all advertisers should work towards. Ad fraud is a complex issue which won’t be eradicated overnight, but I feel that we have made a solid start.” 

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