First Fraud Certificates Help Brands Tackle Media's 'Murky' Waters

Sometimes there is a perfect alignment of the stars, or to the less poetic, the right tool appears at the right time to answer a question of the day. Just at the same time as P&G has called out the entire media agency industry for "murky" practices, along comes the first JICWEBS certification for digital ad fraud. 

Being prone to online cowboys who run fake sites to take advertising money for creative that will never been seen by a human, is a bug bear picked out by P&G, but it applies to all digital display advertisers. On welcoming the new certificates for fraud spotting, issued by JICWEBS, ISBA went as far as to suggest that a third of advertising budget is wasted on fraud. So that's billions of pounds worth of spots that are bought from gangsters hiding behind botnets and computers.

Certification isn't necessarily a cure -- it's more like having an agreed-upon effective medicine that brands can now ensure their media agency is using. For the first time, brands looking for transparency have a conversation starter with their media agency that will come in handy most when reviews are underway. They can now ask which JICWEBS-certified provider they are using to combat fraud. Right now, that's only two companies, but their number is sure to increase as more seek a tick of approval from the industry body.

Part of certification is greater clarity about how systems work to detect fraud. Before, brands and agencies were a little in the dark as to how each company went about discovering problems, but now that there is an industry-wide agreement about what constitutes effective, good practice, it can all be a lot clearer what they are getting from a tech provider. This is, of course, important to brands because it's third-party relationships such as fraud detection, where they suspect they have been kept in the dark. With a clearer understanding of at least what they are paying for now on the table, they might even get a better idea of what that means they should be paying for a certified service.

So just at the time that media agencies are being asked to be more transparent, to provide clients with a less "murky" service, along comes a little piece of transparency around fraud that could shine a light on at least one of the "miscellaneous" third-party charges. Most importantly, however, a light has now been taken to fraud systems, which have usually been considered a dark art that brands need not worry themselves with. With a tick from JICWEBS, however, at least brands now have a yardstick they can take to market with them.

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