Combating Ad Fraud with Cutting-Edge Tech

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It’s no secret that ad fraud is a major hurdle for digital advertisers, sapping billions annually from marketing budgets. As digital advertising continues to receive higher cuts of marketing budgets, the pressure on ad platforms to deliver legitimate and high-quality campaigns to their customers has never been greater. At the same time, marketers must be increasingly aware and choosy in how and where they run their digital campaigns in order to avoid the perils of ad fraud.

There are plenty of ad traps out there, but savvy marketers and publishers alike can implement a number of digital checkpoints to not only keep ad fraud at bay, but also optimize what is working and maximize profits for both parties.

For Advertisers

Welcome The Whitelists

Programmatic technology has advanced to the point where cutting-edge ad platforms can offer advertiser clients the ability to not only see which apps or websites are driving clicks at the highest rates but also follow through on those clicks to see which apps and websites are earning the best conversion rates for the advertisers’ goals. A flower delivery vendor, for example, can use this to know which apps and websites have users most likely to actually purchase their product rather than just the users interested enough to click or browse.

This also allows agencies and companies to use the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to where they place their advertisements. It allows audience network platforms to communicate with ad exchanges to ensure their advertisers’ budgets are spent as effectively as possible.

Find A Platform That Values Brand Safety

Advertisers too often buy placements without knowing exactly who will receive their ads and what websites and apps their ads will appear on. This heightens the importance for brands and companies to choose an advertising platform that connects them to the best audiences. The best demand-side platforms, which allow advertisers to purchase and manage their ad buys, offer total transparency to said advertisers.

Advertisers should strive to use platforms that allow them full access to a number of elements: their ad management dashboards, the list of publishers their ads are being shown through, and a full look at the ad inventory they are buying into. The ad management dashboard should ideally be as customizable, transparent ,and flexible as possible, giving advertisers the utmost assurance that their ads are showing in the right places to the right users.

For Publishers

Bring Out The Blacklists

While advertisers often want to exclude their ads from running on apps or websites with negative associations (fake news, hate speech, adult content), audience network platforms offer the distinct advantage of being able to preemptively blacklist apps and websites known for higher prevalences in ad fraud in order to protect their advertisers. For example, sites whose ads have low viewability rates (a metric that only tracks impressions that can be actually seen on a user’s screen) can be blacklisted. The same goes for sites or ad exchanges known for producing fake clicks or falsifying conversions in their reporting.

Audience network platforms can not only blacklist certain apps and websites but also dive even deeper by blacklisting IP addresses and mobile device IDs. This adds a built-in layer of protection before the advertiser even enters the picture, allowing publishers to preemptively remove the worst or shadiest possible placements and audiences. With audience network platforms serving as the de facto bouncer, pre-set blacklists help advertisers get the most actual impressions and impact for their spend while helping publishers keep their platform safe.

Be Choosy With Ad Exchanges

A major way to tackle ad fraud is by gaining access to high-quality ad exchanges. Ad exchanges serve as digital auctioneers, allowing publishers to sell inventory (ad space) and advertisers to buy impressions faster than you can snap your fingers. But not all impressions are created equal. Top-tier ad exchanges have more stringent systems in place to vet publishers and advertisers and are able to deliver much higher-quality impressions as a result. Just like any brick-and-mortar site of commerce, these high-quality ad exchanges stake their reputations on the quality of their product.

Audience network platforms, which connect publishers and advertisers to ad exchanges, want to stay in the good graces of the top-tier ad exchanges of the industry and do their own vetting of advertised content to ensure nothing will be flagged and potentially harm their own reputations. For example, an audience network platform might put a new advertiser onto a second-tier ad exchange for a two-week trial to ensure the advertiser is compliant before upgrading their access to the highest tier. Upper-echelon ad exchanges can be choosy, so audience network platforms must do everything in their power to prevent ad fraud or risk losing their “trusted partner” advantage.

For All

Transparency has often been a major source of disconnect between digital and app publishers and advertisers, with advertisers receiving raw clickthrough or impression data but being kept in the dark on where their ads are actually being placed online. But now, programmatic and in-app advertisers have enough information at their fingertips to whitelist high-performing websites and apps, blacklist suspicious or low-performing placements, and use the best possible tools to handle the complex task of managing and hyper-targeting their digital advertising campaigns. Sometimes, it can be best to discover what works and stick to it.

Pushmeet Sodhi is Head of Account Management at Pocketmath.