How can marketers achieve a single source of truth in fraud free digital advertising?

Julia Smith, Director of Communications, Impact and Scott Brazina, Chief Marketing Officer, Impact 

Over the last few years we have been bombarded with worrying headlines citing that fraud is impacting our industry to the tune of billions of pounds. But no matter who is at fault, the fact remains that in today’s digital advertising industry, ads are being increasingly served to bots rather than legitimate users, meaning advertiser budgets are being wasted advertising to non-humans.

Ad fraud has become pervasive, and this has led to advertisers closely scrutinising their budgets, trying to ensure their ad spend doesn’t end up in the hands of the fraudsters. The situation has led to an increased lack of trust, which has threatened the relationship between advertisers and publishers, and indeed the very future of digital advertising.

More worrying are the reports that brands and marketers are losing up to 30 per cent of ad spend, which has provided the impetus to fight back. Ad fraud will continue to flourish if it avoids detection, but if advertisers demand transparency in publisher inventory and traffic sources, and identify third-party source activity through the use of cutting-edge technology, they will be able to make the first steps in fighting back against fraud.

The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The threat of fraud can be stemmed and marketers can regain their trust in where their marketing spend goes.

Marketers are seeking transparency on where their ads are being served, and they can achieve this very easily by using technology to both eliminate ad fraud and measure the delivery and performance of valid human traffic. In simple terms, marketers can use technology to establish whether the ad has been seen by a human and whether it has actually been delivered to the true URL, as well as providing an accurate assessment of its performance, and whether it was able to measure VHT.

Fraud technology looks at anomalies in the algorithms to provide data on whether a source is VHT or IVHT, allowing marketers to be one step ahead of fraud and elevate marketing trust.

Technology has a business-critical role to play in maintaining trust between buyer and seller. Given that ad fraud is on the rise, serious efforts must be made to regain that trust if digital advertising revenue is to recover.

Ultimately, marketers strive to achieve five key actions from their advertising spend: measurement, performance, results, trust and transparency. They need a single source of truth from visibility and from their investment, allowing them to compare data accurately and be proactive in how they optimise and attribute the performance of their campaigns. In an ever-changing and increasingly complex marketing landscape, it is essential that we simplify the job for marketers and restore their waning confidence in advertising metrics, enabling them to make better decisions based on valid and accurate performance.

Multiple marketing data sources have led to inefficiencies and reduced transparency, and this has played into the hands of the fraudsters. It is time to stop this trend and fight back against both fraud and inefficiencies in digital marketing. In a game of cat-and-mouse with the fraudsters, technology will lead the way in winning this war and ensure that marketers trust in our industry is retained.

By Julia Smith, Director of Communications, Impact and Scott Brazina, Chief Marketing Officer, Impact

Video Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to Business Reporters UK 2030 campaign. I'm Alastair Greener. The media industry has a problem with transparency and performance issues. And billions of pounds are being lost because of fraud.

It's been difficult for marketers to measure, track, and gain reliable insights about who is looking at their digital advertising. Is it a human or a bot? How can marketers track and measure their digital campaigns accurately to ensure that it's from a single source of truth?

To find out more, I'm talking to Julia Smith and Scott Brazina from Impact. Good morning.

Good morning, Alistair.

Good morning.

When we look at the mobile display advertising industry, fraud is costing billions. I mean, it's one of the highest out there. And you know, some people say that there are advertisers who are losing-- brands are losing 30% of their advertising spend. What's going wrong?

So the good news is that marketers do not need to lose that 30%. There is technology now that can do the job of regaining trust for marketers. The role of technology is to actually better show if something is a human viewer, or is being viewed by a human viewer, or is being viewed by a bot.

It's very simple now. And it's in the ability for marketers to have that trust back in their digital marketing spend. We are aware, obviously, the fraudsters go where the money is. And obviously, mobile is one of the largest growing sectors in our industry. So of course, they're going to go after that.

But what is out there now is technology that can protect even [INAUDIBLE] fraud, et cetera. So it's just using the right technology and being able to know, has my ad been seen by a human being? What does it deliver? How did it perform? Can I measure it? Those are really the only questions that marketers need to answer.

And talking of those questions, we look at the subject of trust. When marketers don't have that single source of truth coming in, what problems is that creating when it comes to their analytics when they're looking at everything that's coming through?

That's a question of visibility, and where they should be spending their money, their marketing investments, because they're making many different investments always at the same time-- different marketing channels. And they have a need to understand which of those channels is performing best and make adjustments as real time as they can across those channels.

So they need a single source of truth that pulls all that data together, so that they're not doing a bunch of reports and running outside reports and piecing them together. So having one solution that provides all that is critical for them to do their jobs well.

And so it's never been a more complicated time for marketeers, but it doesn't need to be, I think is the message we always get across to marketers.

And you talk about solutions, and of course, one of the things that is used a lot these days are algorithms. And they can help, as you were talking about the difference between a human or non-human. So how do these algorithms actually work?

So obviously, the idea is that you use technology to fight technology that the fraudsters are using. We're looking at things like the anomalies that do exist. So I'll give you a real example. If for example, a user is clicking on a video and looking and engaging within a video, a human being does not do a perfect circle with their mouse time and time again. That would stand out as an anomaly. We would know that is a bot. And that impression would be invalid, and it would be highlighted as such.

We're working all the time to look to really seeing the latest version of our algorithms, and we have a huge team data scientist that their job is to progress and try to advance ahead of the fraudsters.

Tell us a little bit more about Impact and what you do and how you do it, and for that matter, what's different about what you do.

Yeah, so that's a great question. It's back to elevating the marketer's trust in their investments-- in their marketing investments. We have a unique solution that brings together capabilities to know how their investments are performing, remove and avoid bad investments-- this whole issue of fraud detection and elimination and avoidance. The marketer knows that they're making good bets, they're seeing the results of it, and then they're able to optimise across those channels.

And in the end, really what this is doing is lifting a marketer's trust in their marketing investments to a new level.

And so I would say as well, it's almost that motive of I know that 50% of my advertising works, but I don't know which half. There's no longer any reason why any marketers should say that, because they're able to measure it. There's no longer any reason why a marketer would say, I don't know if a human being saw that ad. Because there's measurement technology that can show them that.

So this trust on both measurement, and trust going forward as well, for prevention.

So it's great that the algorithms can give you that visibility now. But that's now. What about in future? How can you future proof the algorithms to make sure that you are staying ahead of the fraudsters?

I think it's a constant battle. It's like a cat and mouse game that we are winning, actually, which as good. As we've shown recently, we found a sports bot on some of the NFL sites. And it was forensic that found that that was a cause within those particular sites, and was able to battle it and go after it before it done too much damage. And I think that that's our job to do, and to continue to evolve our own algorithms and use our incredible team of data scientists to able to be one step ahead.

This is here and now, we're playing cat and mouse, as you say with the fraudsters, and we want to be ahead of the game. So what are the trends that are out there at the moment that the industry is looking at to maintain that pace of being ahead?

The future is about prediction-- being predictive in nature. And some of the core technologies that we're using to do that is artificial intelligence and machine learning. Putting those two together is a powerful combination to stay one step ahead of the bad issues, and also be predictive about the good issues, like what's working? What should I optimise? What direction should I go in?

And I think I would just add to that, there's a second part potentially as well, which is block chain technology. And I think it's a welcome technology for publishers and advertisers, because it's about the transactions and the accountability of that. And forensic is looking to be embedded within those technology tools, within the platforms and with block chain, to make valid each of those transactions. Again, adding trust for the marketers that within each transaction is actually fraud free as well.

And yet again, it's really interesting to see how technology is at the forefront of these initiatives. And let's hope that with their help, we'll be able to stay ahead of the fraudsters. It's been fascinating finding out more. Julia Smith, Scott Brazina from Impact, thank you very much.

Thank you very much, Alastair.

Thank you.


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