Amid growing concern over online advertising fraud, the Media Rating Council has issued new guidelines for digital media vendors and companies to follow in order to detect and filter out “invalid traffic” generated by non-human sources like bots.
The industry organization, official arbiter of media ratings in the U.S., said it expects all MRC-accredited organizations to comply with the new guidelines. All future applicants for accreditation will be evaluated for compliance with them.
The MRC highlighted a number of key points in the guidelines, including the requirement for enhanced internal controls covering employee behavior policies, partner qualification processes, analysis of acquired or paid traffic, periodic risk assessments, and the correct procedure for challenging a decision to remove invalid traffic.
The guidelines also cover organizational directives for digital measurement outfits, including internal and external communication responsibilities, and the requirement to establish a Traffic Quality Office with a data quality officer within each organization.
The rules, set out in a document titled “Invalid Traffic (IVT) Detection and Filtration Guidelines, Version 1.0,” finalize recommendations proposed this summer by contributors including the Invalid Traffic working group, which brought together major players like the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Mobile Marketing Association, and Trustworthy Accountability Group.
They apply to all measurement products that involve tagging, beacons, cookies, redirects and other types of message tracking and various types of census tracking.
The rules take effect immediately, but accredited organizations have a grace period of 180 days to comply with them. The IAB also noted that the rules will be submitted to buyer-side organizations including the 4As and ANA for review and approval.
As noted, ad fraud has been a growing area of concerns for advertisers and publishers in recent months. Earlier this week a study from Distil Networks estimated that around a third of all publisher ad revenues are hijacked by fraud, for example by non-human actors like bot nets.