If you’re a media planner using online advertising traffic data, you’ll know all about the challenges and the need for guidelines – so this simple explanation tells you more.
While advertisers expect their online content is viewed by human audiences, this isn’t always the case. This new report from the IAB looks at how the threat of click fraud and what marketers can do to ensure their message reaches their desired audience, and not criminals looking to make easy cash out of fake clicks.
There is an increasing level of illegal activity, known as traffic fraud, which is used by criminals to exploit the system and get paid for fake, non-human traffic. Traffic fraud is a serious problem.
The potential for digital advertising fraud exists anywhere that media spending is significant and performance metrics are ambiguous or incomplete. Nefarious groups have found ways to profit by infiltrating legitimate systems and generating false ad views, ad clicks, and site visits using robotic programs.
Robotic traffic, popularly known as “bots”, is driven by code, not humans so it has no ability to generate real conversions or purchases. Bots are smart enough to mimic human behavior, making them difficult to detect.
The activity generated by these bots distorts the engagement metrics driven by real, human traffic, which dilutes the value of legitimate publisher inventory. In addition, advertisers end up paying a material portion of their campaign dollars to fraudsters who deliver specious ad impressions that are never seen by humans.
Six negative impacts of traffic fraud
1. Brands waste money on ad campaigns that include a material portion of fraudulent impressions.
2. Fraud complicates campaign performance analysis when human and non-human activity for ads and site visits are mixed in reports.
3. Brands lose confidence in digital media.
4. The supply of inventory is inflated artificially, reducing the value of legitimate publishers.
5. Failing to root out traffic fraud funds criminal activity and supports organized crime.
6. Fraud undermines industry self-regulation efforts, invites negative press about the industry, and potentially intervention by government regulators.
The following illustrates how easy it can be to become a victim of traffic fraud.
View larger image here
You can view the full IAB report here (PDF)