MRC Issues Ad Fraud Rules

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.

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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.

2 comments about "MRC Issues Ad Fraud Rules".
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  1. Augustine Fou from Marketing Science Consulting Group, Inc., October 27, 2015 at 5:58 p.m.

    Very glad to see this progress. 

  2. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, October 28, 2015 at 11:11 a.m.

    While I haven't read the latest release of the guidelines, I would expect the purchasers in the online industry - publishers, content distributors, agencies and advertisers - to lean on the technology providers to to develop and implement solutions, then improve them  over time as the fraud perpetrators work to get around the solutions. It is an ongoing process, akin to security measures to reduce shoplifting, fiancial fraud and other similar crimes. We may never get to zero, and will always have to be alert, but we can get the fraud (theft) level down to a condition of mere nuisance.

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