Shailin Dhar, founder and director of research at Method Media Intelligence, explains the challenges posed by different types of advertising fraud, including attribution fraud where fraudsters are able to wrongfully claim credit for conversions.
In an interview with eMarketer, Dhar explained that there are three major areas people are concerned about: desktop video, mobile in-app advertising and fake news. Advertisers are more concerned with video and mobile in-app because that’s where they’re spending a lot of money.
While they’re right to be concerned about these areas, advertisers still haven’t fully understood display and desktop banner fraud. A lot of ad tech companies still don’t understand that there are fraudulent publishers buying traffic and selling display banners.
We’ve been running third-party verification systems, and they’ve gotten better and better in that area, but the problem is still not solved. There’s still a loss of ad budgets in desktop and display, but we’re already moving on to try and address in-app and video.
Concern over video ad fraud:
Dhar’s concern with video is that more and more of it is leading to out-stream video advertising rather than in-stream. In-stream involves a publisher having a video player on their page as well as video content. More and more publishers are moving to out-stream video, which is kind of an interstitial banner that shows a video. Advertisers are still paying for video CPMs, but those video ads are being shown to users who are there to see text content.
Because of that, out-stream video is very susceptible to bots and fraudulent traffic. With out-stream you look at the page, and there is no extra check for them to have video ads vs. normal banners.>
Concern over mobile ad fraud:
Install fraud is a big trend within mobile app fraud, but the issue and fear advertisers have is, “Would I have sold this item to the consumer anyway without having to pay an ad network?” Advertisers are worried that there are ad networks and traffic vendors taking credit for conversions that would have happened organically.
Concern over attribution fraud:
Attribution fraud is a bit more technical, and it’s more devious. Say there’s a basic utility app that’s free. A person downloads it, and it might have adware on it that allows it to sit in the background of your phone generating ads when you’re not actually seeing them. It’s on a human device, but the ad is not being viewed by a human. It’s just automatically running in the background.
However, these apps aren’t just generating ad revenue; they can also see when that user downloads another app. So, if I have a flashlight app on my phone and I go out and download a travel app like Booking.com, the flashlight app can see that I just downloaded the travel app.
What it will do is send a signal that we showed an Booking.com ad to this user and got a click. And they are always going to be the most recent one; they’re guaranteed attribution, because they fired that off while the app was downloading. And they get last-click attribution. This is a more devious, sophisticated form of ad fraud because it involves having your actual app on tons of human devices.
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