Click-bait digital fraud bleeding ad industry

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on February 28, 2020

Every one out of four clicks on online advertisements is a fraud click in India, with marketers continuing to waste budgets on such ‘organised crime’.

As more money pours into digital advertising, opportunity grows for ad fraudsters, who are continually developing new schemes to evade detection and pilfer from the advertising ecosystem.

A new whitepaper by Madison Media has found the scale of the fraud is rapidly growing, disrupting digital advertising, which is set to contribute 62 per cent to overall advertising expenditure.

Ad fraud continues to be a huge problem globally for the digital advertising ecosystem, taking $1 for every $3 spent on online advertisements, be it on a website or mobile. The cost of global ad fraud is set to top $30 billion this year.

While 78 per cent of marketers tend to cite click fraud as their top concern, ad fraud in India is almost 6 per cent for display and 4 per cent for video, according to Madison’s white paper, exclusively shared with BusinessLine.

A distressing message in the report states that marketers who are not utilising a measurement provider could be wasting at least 4 per cent of their video budget, on an average. This could vary depending on the specific category the marketer is operating in.

Sam Balsara, Chairman of Madison World, said the issue has reached massive proportions.

“Click fraud can go upwards of 25 percent. With digital advertising expected to reach 27 per cent of advertising expenditure, it would be in advertisers’ interest to be more sharp-eyed and heed advice,” he said.

The author of the white paper Chintan Soni, Madison Digital’s Product Head (Media), said the aim was to “address the issues that digital media is facing, not just in India but globally. It remains a key concern for the advertising industry and needs to be addressed.”

Speaking about the sectors most prone to be hit by ad fraud, Soni said e-commerce was high on the list, followed by travel, entertainment and gaming, banking and finance and healthcare and pharma.

Solution for frauds

The white paper delivers some advice on how to tackle the ghosts, bots and bad placements, asking advertisers to implement stringent third-party verification metrics. Pointing to MOAT Measurement, the agency suggests it is not only a platform that allows the brand to understand how viewable and brand-safe the impressions are across campaigns, but also a way for brands to gain deeper insights into creative performance and ad effectiveness.

Advertisers have also been asked to always use trusted networks and deploy ad verification methodology that can help minimise the risk of ad fraud. Another key criteria outlined by the white paper is to Know Your Metrics, a vital step in identifying ad fraud.

Another suggestion is to build a robust programmatic tech stack, since there are many faces of ad fraud, including viewability, bot traffic and completion rates. The advice is to select the right programmatic technology provider that includes thorough fraud detection solutions such as pre-bid filtering for invalid traffic and built in viewability measurements.

Published on February 28, 2020

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