- The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and White Ops, a digital ad fraud mitigation company, released a report that predicts advertisers will lose $7.2 billion to fraudulent ad bot impressions in 2016.
- Two areas of digital advertising in particular were found to be especially vulnerable to bot fraud: display media with CPMs over $10 had 30% more fraud than lower CPM media, and programmatic ads had higher bot fraud at 14% for display ads and 73% for video ads.
- ANA and White Ops offered marketers suggestions to address ad bot fraud that included understanding the programmatic supply chain, requesting transparency for inventory and traffic sourcing, and using third-party monitoring for all traffic.
The fraud problem is still somewhat of an uphill battle, according to White Ops CEO Michael Tiffany. Until there is broader acceptance of the dilemma, there won't be a reversal to the financial trends the study points out, he explained in a statement about the research, and put the blame in part on tighter controls and lack of transparency.
"In problems of security and fraud, the 'attacker's advantage' of only needing to find one weakness in a defense is well understood. The study highlights the challenges faced by the advertising ecosystem as defenders, and the many techniques that a sophisticated, persistent adversary can exploit within the online advertising industry," Tiffany said in the same statement.
Ad bots are an increasingly sophisticated problem for all players in the digital advertising space. In fact, digital security firm Are You A Human has uncovered bots that mimic rudimentary human-like activity, such as mouse movement. These bots are capable of fooling some traffic verifiers and have been found for sale in traffic previously verified as human.
But finding a solution won't be easy. Echoing Tiffany's words about it being an uphill battle, Steve Sullivan, vp of partner success at Index Exchange, told Marketing Dive in December the key to fighting ad fraud lies in transparency.
"A fully transparent, traceable supply chain that allows identification of all parties to a transaction is the only way to substantially reduce fraud," Sullivan said.