Have major TV networks been committing fraud?
That would seem to be the case, based on the definition of video advertising fraud presented by Integrated Ad Science's Mike Iantosca on the "How Bad Is The Inventory" panel during MediaPost's Video Insider Summit.
The definition of "fraud," he said, is "an impression not viewed by a human."
Since not all ad impressions broadcast by television networks are actually seen by viewers -- they are skipping, fast-forwarding, or just not looking at them -- the major nets could be considered some of the biggest con artists bilking Madison Avenue.
Clearly, that's not part of the business model -- or at least, the unspoken agreement -- between advertisers, agencies and TV networks. But it apparently is the case for online video.
According to Iantosca, as much as "60%" of online video ads are "not being viewed."
Most of the not-viewing behavior he was referring to comes from outright fraudulent behavior, such as ads being served on parts of pages that are not even viewable by a user or even worse, by a machine -- a so-called botnet -- that isn't even a human being. Until those botnets start buying (or at least showing some form of purchase intent) for the brands advertising online, it is a serious form of ad fraud.
That's not always criminal intent, said Ignited's LJ Kobe, although it definitely needs to be managed and safe-guarded.
"We as agencies are entrusted with out clients' dollars, and that is not something we should take lightly," she explained. "For me, I focus more from a fraud perspective on the viewability and the quality of the content surrounding out clients' ads."
In a more explicit form of criminal fraud, White Ops' Jay Benach said the bots are getting much more sophisticated, and that Madison Avenue needs to arm itself with better defensive technologies to protect against a wide range of fraudulent entities, including netbots, "scrapers" and "other malicious agents."
One of the problems, said Benach, is those forms of fraud are "not even distributed," meaning they pop-up, go away and come back somewhere else again.
"Fraud is not steady state," he said, "It can show up and disappear very quickly."