Brands Can Waste Billions Or Push Partners On Fraud And Viewability

The thing about online fraud and viewability is that whatever anyone does, you're always left wondering why it hasn't already been done. Now I know that viewability and fraud are separate issues, but in a way, they're conjoined. Brands want to know their ads could not only be seen but seen by a real human being. So these are two sides of the same coin.

Hence the week has started with a warning from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) that a massive 30% of online marketing budgets are being spent, unwittingly, on fraud. To say it's a huge issue is an understatement. Ultimately, the best part of a billion dollars per week ($45bn per year) is estimated to be wasted on fraud, and that figure is predicted to more than treble to $150bn per year by 2025, if radical action isn't taken.

The rather obvious warning from the WFA is that brands need to build compensation into contracts to ensure they are not picking up the entire tab for fraud -- but also to encourage agencies, networks and vendors to take the advertiser's side and do more to combat fraud. Just think about it for a moment. Fraud isn't anyone else's problem until the guys paying the bill decide it is.

Which brings me on to another point. The body that oversees digital marketing standards in the UK, JICWEBS, has just unveiled guidance for what brands and agencies should look for in a video viewability vendor. Namely, that it should be able to measure how many pixels have been displayed, as a percentage of the total viewing area, before it calculates how long for. The point is that this way the publisher, agency, exchange and brand all know the required 50% of pixels for two seconds standard viewability standard has been reached.

I had to check but I'd presumed this was already enshrined. I would caution against ever criticising any industry body because their work is incredibly granular and involves working with multiple partners, often with conflicting or diverse interests. The point is that this is the first time the guidance has been offered, and it is pretty much saying a vendor must be able to measure what is already established as a video viewability metric and so is already in place. The more interesting aspect of certifying vendors, so brands have third-party verification that their tools work, is likely to come next. Don't expect a stampede, though. Display certification came first and has only been achieved so far by six companies, although more are expected to be announced soon.

So we're back to the beginning. We're only just putting out a statement that brands should be measuring against a standard that is already long-established and the WFA is warning advertisers, as they have been warned many times, that until they start putting fraud at the heart of their contracts, it won't be tackled with the committed effort required. 

Is it just me, or were you kind of thinking viewability and fraud are so huge that we had actually progressed a little further than this?

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