Four Ways Advertisers Can Fight Ad Fraud

The advertising industry has known the internet to be fraught with fraudulent ad activity since 2013, but a new focus on local has the potential to cause further problems for digital advertisers.

Five years ago, AdWeek started the conversation with an article that proposed one-quarter of all programmatic advertising was being lost to scammers, bots and other malicious entities (“The Amount of Questionable Online Traffic Will Blow Your Mind,” AdWeek, Oct 2013).

“What we have found is the devaluation of digital media is causing us to lose about 25 percent of the roughly $30 billion that is being spent,” stated Wenda Millard, Vice-Chairman of Medialink, in an interview addressing the fraudulent nature of today’s web advertising.

How is this fraud occurring?

  • Sites are hiding an ad behind another ad to boost inventory.
  • Lower quality sites will spoof their domain to trick networks into believing they are a high-quality site.
  • The use of bots to boost traffic and simulate honest user behavior.
  • The latest fraud is being accomplished by faking a device’s location to secure dollars targeted to a different area.

While the industry has been diligently working to plug the holes in the programmatic ecosystem, fraudsters continue to uncover new ways to cheat and devalue the advertising brands are running every day.  In their latest move, they have started to counterfeit location data from mobile devices and deliver ads outside of their targeted geography.  This method allows for an expansion of inventory, guaranteeing the ability to deliver in full in restricted markets or to deliver into less expensive areas.  Due to this fraud, BIA/Kelsey estimates that over $3 billion in advertising is lost annually (“The next frontier in digital ad fraud: local markets,” Digital Content Next, Oct 2018).

What can advertisers do to fight fraud?

Advertisers and the agencies that represent them play an integral part in fighting fraud.  Since they control who they are purchasing inventory from, they can lead market change through the power of the purse.  Below are four ways advertisers can start implementing change and avoiding fraud today:

  1. Avoid programmatic partners and networks who do not disclose where your ads are running. The nature of programmatic advertising often leads to targeting a specific audience and not a particular digital property, but a trusted company should be able to showcase an example site list before the campaign or as a domain report post-launch.
  2. Question the veracity of the traffic of digital properties. Is the site pulling traffic from trusted sources (search engines, social media, etc.) or driving traffic directly to their website? Or, is the company behind the site paying for traffic to their property? Once a site turns to paid traffic, the opportunity for fake traffic in the form of bots increases exponentially and results in an advertiser reaching a machine instead of a person.
  3. A targeted campaign on premium sites will cost more but will offer more assurances of non-fraudulent delivery. Be willing to pay the real price for an effective campaign.
  4. In the case of fraudulent geo-targeting, the answer resides in the power of local media.  Newspapers, broadcast stations and other premium sites serving local news attract real people who live within the targeted areas.  Work with local media properties to reach the real people who live and work in the targeted market.

The next time you are considering running a locally targeted campaign, consider the following from BIA/ Kelsey.

“The key difference is that local media outlet sites are visited by humans that live in those locations, as opposed to targeting users based on geo-location information that may show they are in the location.”

If you are interested in reaching humans instead of bots, connect with MANSI Media.  Our team of expert media buyers can help you secure your media buy on newspaper and local media websites across the country.  With one phone call, your print and digital will be done.

Check your next newspaper campaign off your list and call (717-703-3030) or email (