TAG Certified distribution channels reduce the level of fraud in digital advertising by more than 83% compared to the industry average, according to a new study by The 614 Group conducted on behalf of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and made available to Marketing Dive in a news release.
- The analysis uncovered that levels of Invalid Traffic (IVT) in digital advertising averaged 8.83 % for display inventory and 12.03% when including video inventory. The IVT figure for TAG Certified Channels measured just 1.48% across video and display inventory. Speaking on a call with reporters Thursday, Mike Zaneis, president and CEO of TAG, said it's "a little early" to translate that remaining invalid traffic figure to a dollar amount because campaigns using CPMs or CPCs were not measured.
- More than 6.5 billion display and video impressions were looked at between July 1 and Oct. 31 of this year for the research. The 614 Group partnered with the agencies GroupM, IPG Mediabrands and Horizon Media on its analysis, examining all aspects of the media pipeline from the agency and DSPs down to the publisher level. It also worked with the vendors DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science and Moat.
Online advertising fraud has been an issue for years, but its threat has been acutely felt in 2017 in the wake of a number of high-profile, highly-sophisticated bot farms and other bad actors. Since October, a network of "zombie sites," a "Sports Bot" operation and a "Hyphbot" have all been uncovered and are believed to have siphoned off up to hundreds of millions of advertisers' dollars. The 614 Group's analysis reinforces how working with TAG Certified or other third-party accredited channels could help marketers who want to tamp down on these issues and enact significant change.
The study's findings indicate how the "war on fraud" is indeed winnable, Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, said in a statement, echoing comments made earlier this year. Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of the 4A's, also noted the results uncovered "valuable insight into mitigating ad fraud and ensuring that that hard work — and the ad spend behind it — reaches the people it's intended to reach."
Despite these positive signs and shows of support, problems persist in industry professionals' education and awareness about the prevalence of fraud and how to fight it. Zaneis offered a four-pronged approach to addressing the issue: Marketers might think of creating a brand safety officer or similar role in the same way they hire chief privacy officers; establishing a specific policy around fraud with their agencies and other marketing services providers; more closely examining their partners across the supply chain, from agency to publisher; and generally being more vigilant about fraud, which he suggested remains "the biggest gap" from a brand perspective.
"Just because [a successful program] exists doesn't mean marketers will always avail themselves of it," Zaneis said. "It certainly doesn't mean we've solved the fraud problem. But we have chartered a path forward."