The advertising industry loses millions of dollars annually to advertising fraud. At the IAB Leadership Summit in Phoenix, Per Bjorke, senior product manager at Google, rallied advertisers, agencies, publishers and platform providers to work together to stop ad fraud.
Bjorke drew from his recent work with White Ops. In November 2018, Google and White Ops uncovered a digital ad-fraud scheme called 3ve, which involved several schemes in which the U.S. Department of Justice became involved. Defendants allegedly used malware-infected computers to run automated ad-fraud schemes without users’ knowledge or consent.
The 3ve malware scheme hit more than 1.7 million computers and resulted in $29 million in payments for fake digital ads.
Not all invalid traffic is categorized as ad fraud. The industry, however, needs to accept that there is no "silver bullet" to solve the economic hardship created by ad fraud, Bjorke said.
Bjorke believes ads.txt, also known as Authorized Digital Sellers, aims to provide a
secure method that publishers and distributors can use to verify
the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. He said it can help to stop ad fraud, although it is not a silver bullet.
This is hard work that is ongoing ,and everyone needs to contribute, he said.
Contributing to the ad-fraud problem are too many intermediaries in the supply chain and less-than-stellar ad inventory.
Some believe blockchain can reduce ad fraud by detecting the invalid traffic. The technology might be able to follow the money if it can tap into the entire ecosystem, but won’t necessarily detect valid from invalid traffic or detect shell companies.
The same type of fraud doesn’t happen with search ads. The main fraud occurs from sabotage from competitors. For example, one dry cleaner business might compete with another up the street. One might try to waste the other's budget by clicking on their ads.
Google has technology that can curtail search fraud from occurring, and uses ads.txt to try and stop ad fraud in other types of advertising.
During the questions at the end of the presentation, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said the IAB is working to educated officials in Washington about the problems surrounding ad fraud.