Advertiser, what would you do if I told you that you may be unintentionally funding organized crime? What if I told you that up to 15% of your digital budget is potentially wasted and going to fraudsters? It all ties back to the reality of digital fraud, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to.
Digital fraud is a reality. Online botnets (infected machines being served ads without ever being seen by a human) continuously generate ad impressions and page views across the Web. Every time your ad is served to a bot, your money is wasted because bots can’t convert or spend money with your brand. It’s akin to going to the grocery store, and paying for your items only to leave your bags at the store. Your groceries are no use to you if you don’t take them with you, but luckily you can go back to the store to retrieve them. When you pay for ads that are served to bots, you are robbed of the chance to connect with human beings.
Impression fraud levels vary depending on how you buy your media, but it is important to note that no matter how reputable the media seller or publisher is, as long as media is sold on views (CPM) or action (CPC/CPA) they are susceptible to fraud. On top of imitating clicks and views, bots are sophisticated enough to target reputable publishers in order to pick up cookies that advertisers find valuable and in turn be targeted on expensive ad slots.
Some advertisers try to address fraud by relying on traditional attribution models, but this can confuse the facts. Analyzing campaign results is a waste of time if you are including fraudulent traffic in your metrics. Using attribution models that use last touch or last click can be misleading if you count the traffic that is viewed or clicked by bots as a win. Bots are programmed to “game the system” and appear to convert.
Viewability and fraud are often linked, with the notion that if ads are in view, then they are viewed by humans. Bots have the upper hand here, too. Many ads that are served to bots are in fact “viewed” — by a bot. If you are measuring your campaign’s viewability, you are counting those views as well.
Digital fraud is not going away anytime soon, but luckily, there are tools that can help protect advertisers from serving their ads to bots. So what can you do?
Advertisers who choose to turn a blind eye to digital fraud and are not proactive in eliminating it are doing a huge disservice to their brand. They are wasting their budgets and, chances are, their campaign analysis is misleading if fraud is included.