According to Emarketer, brands will spend more than $46 billion in programmatic advertising in the United States in 2018. Within just two years, they also estimate that 86.2 percent of all the ads displayed on digital channels will be purchased through this automated strategy.
The popularity of programmatic advertising lies in its ability to help brands bid automatically on advertising that fits their budget. Unfortunately, the rise of this automation in PPC has also paved the way for fraud to become prevalent in the industry.
As brands become more aware of the possibility, some have taken steps to protect themselves and their clients. These efforts appear to be paying off, as the National Association of Advertisers in the United States does believe that ad fraud is currently in decline. They estimated that the loss to advertisers fell between 2016 and 2017 by a million dollars. The importance of ad fraud prevention, however, remains high as all need to remain vigilant to avoid being a victim, losing valuable marketing budget, and allowing the rates of fraud to rise once again.
Here are a few media buying tips we use to protect our clients that all brands should use to safeguard their ad spend as well.
Tips for ad fraud prevention
Tip 1. Know where the ads will be published
Before purchasing ads through a particular platform, look at where the ads will be published. You want to know the context where the ads will be displayed so that you can be confident that the other content on the page will be relevant.
You also want to look at the traffic the site gets. As you look at the sites, you should create blacklists and whitelists. Blacklists describe sites where you do not want your ad displayed. Conversely, whitelists describe the sites where you do want your ad displayed.
Tip 2. Use Ads.txt
Ads.txt offers a safer buying method for brands. It verifies that the correct information is passed from the Sell Side Platform, which is the piece that takes care of the programmatic promotions that this particular site runs, to the publisher. This way brands can be confident in the data collected from their ad campaigns and it will help with ad fraud detection.
Reliable ad platforms will not shy away from using Ads.txt. Google, for example, has adopted this tool on over 50 percent of their ad space that they offer through their DoubleClick Bid Manager.
Tip 3. Work with companies that use pre-bid data
Pre-bid data can also be a valuable resource to avoid ad fraud. A pre-bid solution should be available through the demand-side platform. This tool allows you to filter out potential fraudulent sites beforehand, protecting your ads and your budget.
You can target particular segments, such as those with low rates of invalid traffic. This will give you more control over your ads and where they are displayed. You will have to balance how strict you make your guidelines and how often you want your ad to be shown, as the more restrictions you place the fewer sites will be available to display your ad.
Preventing ad fraud
It’s important to remember that:
- Programmatic advertising continues to increase year after year, making brands vulnerable to ad fraud.
- The increased number of precautions agencies and brands have taken have the reduced the rates of fraud, but continued vigilance is required to prevent a resurgence.
- Brands can help avoid falling victim to fraud by:
- Scouting out where the ads will be displayed
- Ensuring that the platforms used employ ads.txt
- Use pre-bid data to improve your control over where the ads are placed
No brand wants to waste valuable ad budget by falling victim to ad fraud. To protect yourself, we suggest you employ these strategies when using programmatic advertising. If you want to learn more about improving your usage of programmatic advertising, consider reaching out to the experts at Ballantine. Our decades of experience in advertising can be put to work for you.
I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!