As India’s digital economy grows, so does the digital advertising, which is contributing to an increase in the threat of ad fraud. Every year, from November 14th-21st, the International Fraud Awareness Week is observed around the world to promote anti-fraud awareness and education. Today, mFilterIt, a leading global digital brand safety and prevention platform, unveiled a set of myths surrounding ad fraud and brand safety to raise awareness and accelerate efforts to reduce the impact of fraud.
Commenting on the release of Ad Fraud Myths, Mr. Dhiraj Gupta, Co-Founder & CTO, mFilterIt said “One of the best tools to fight Ad Fraud is “Awareness” on this subject. It’s quintessential for the brands and decision-makers to be aware of the gravity of this issue and be responsible for their financial resources. In this digital age, it is a fact that most of the Frauds are committed in the complex digital labyrinth, to mark International Fraud Awareness Week, we are releasing a set of myths that needs to be dismantled to fight this menace so that we can lead towards a safer and secure digital economy.”
In India, the overall share of Digital advertising stands around 30% but it’s expected to grow 25% annually against a global average of 9%. This also means that ad fraud is anticipated to climb from the current average of 25-35 percent to 45-55 percent as firms shift their advertising budgets from traditional to digital. As per the mFilterIt Brand Safety Report 2021, the biggest challenges for Ad Fraud included issues like Awareness (42%), Brand Infringement (23%), Fraud (12%), Investment (12%) and placement (11 %). It is estimated that digital ad fraud will cost advertisers and brands $44 billion in fraudulent activities by 2022.
mFilterit- Myths Prevailing in Ad Fraud & Brand Safety
Below highlights the myths associated with running digital campaigns and how important it is to bust these unacknowledged, unaccounted, and underrepresented myths.
1. Ad Fraud Doesn’t Exist
In digital ad campaigns, either the decision-makers don’t know that ad fraud is draining their money or fraudulent traffic is dismissed as normal as they can’t see any foreseeable answer to the problem. The fact is that advertisers get invalid traffic (IVTs) using bots, VPN/Proxies, click injections, cookie stuffing, or any other form of non-human traffic. According to a recent study, only 36% of online traffic comprises of humans. Fraud is getting detected in BFSI, OTT & Media, Gaming & Ed Tech to the extent of 35-45% both on apps and on the web.
2. There is only 2% fraud across the publisher ecosystem
A lot of people believe that ad fraud averages out to approximately 2% of their overall advertising spend. This is a major misconception propagated by the publisher community in the ad ecosystem as a way out of delivering fraudulent ad inventory. The 2% number seems so insignificant that the advertisers and marketers never pay attention for it doesn’t account for a major advertising loss. Contrary to this popular misconception, the rates of invalid traffic are hauntingly. On walled gardens, the actual fraud is anywhere between 15-18% and on affiliates this can rise anywhere between 22-35%.
3. Impressions and viewability are the sources of measurement for Ad Fraud
If the majority spends for an advertiser are on CPC based traffic model, would impression and viewability-based fraud analysis serve its purpose? Brands need to consider looking across the funnel and “follow-the-money” in terms of fraud analysis. If the payment model is on CPC/CPA/CPV/CPI etc then your fraud detection also needs to be on these metrics and no longer tied to impressions. Estimates of the global scale suggest that about 18% of all ad impressions are never viewed by real people
4. Publisher reports give a clear picture of where the Brand has spent its marketing budgets
Ad placement reports and whether the ads were actually executed on those placements are not verified in publisher reports. There is a lack of data integrity on these numbers. What is important to note is that an ad placement report is more than often taken from the publishers themselves i.e., the very people placing the ad and receiving payment for it. As a result, the quantum of bad ad placements can never be determined because of a conflict of interest.
5. There is no fraud on Walled Gardens
Walled gardens are not innocent in this entire ballgame. The rate of fraudulent traffic to the overall traffic on their platforms average out to 10%. Although walled-gardens mention that they have a system to detect invalid clicks, they don’t stop it. The quantum of the problem is so huge because they constitute up to 80% of the overall traffic on the web. Estimating the size of the overall digital advertising spend to be Rs.25000 crore (approx.), these walled gardens encompass a universal spend of Rs.20,000 crore.
6. English based Brand Safety analysis provide regional context
India has 22 official languages out of which only 5 are supported by Google. According to a recent study, 95% of video consumed are in regional languages. This calls for immediate attention because the regular blacklisting tools will be rendered redundant if this stays unaddressed because keywords and URL blocking relies on a basic interpretation of words to categorize content and the associated inventory as “safe” or “unsafe.”
Brand safety issues may be the same across the globe, but every country and region has its distinct culture and expectations which makes it unique and subjective. As a result, brands would usually adopt contextual targeting measures like keyword blocking and URL blocklists to protect the legacy of their brands. Keyword-based blacklisting is not the way to successfully advertise and ensure brand safety. Context-based blacklisting is the need of the hour which must be constantly updated based on the news story, relevancy with AI-powered algorithms.
7. There is no Ad Fraud on Performance Campaigns
Another common misconception among brands and advertising agencies is that performance campaigns are free from fraud as they are targeted campaigns. They believe that although media campaigns may face issues of ad fraud, performance campaigns are free from the clout of malicious publishers supplying invalid traffic.
Performance Campaigns (CPC/CPV/CPL/CPS) attract invalid traffic to the tune of 30-35% across the industry.
8. Most traffic is clean and most of the BOTS can be simply identified
Most BOT traffic comes in from the two largest public cloud vendors, AWS and Microsoft Azure, in roughly equal measure. When left unchecked, the bad bots can steal data, affect site performance, and even lead to a breach. That’s why it’s critically important to detect and effectively block bot traffic.
Automated traffic takes up 64% of internet traffic (much more than human traffic!)– and whilst just 25% of automated traffic was made up by good bots, such as search engine crawlers and social network bots, 39% of all traffic was from bad bots.
9. Brand safety has nothing to do with ROI and is an unnecessary cost
Brand safety is imperative for every size of the enterprise, irrespective of the industry, vertical, and scale of operation. Unsafe content is actually poor performing for your campaign as well. To set the idea straight, no matter at what scale the enterprise functions at, no matter the industry it caters to, one instance of unsafe advertising practice may lead towards a forever reputation loss. Your ads on unsafe inventory will perform poorly and degrade the ROI of your campaign in general.
Advertising in brand-safe environments is believed to drive significant impact on key measures such as audience quality (83%), brand equity (82%) and brand lift (79%). And more than three-quarters believe that brand safety impacts return on investment, or ROI (77%).
10. Advertiser is in control of all the channels
The medium through which information is disseminated must be considered for the consumers to trust your brand which affects the safety aspect of a brand. There exists a relation between the price paid, audience quality, and brand safety. All equally form the entire gamut of safe branding. In other such instances, advertisers often look at publishers with high-quality audiences and engagement.
A Nielsen analysis of a household-income-adjusted ad campaign found that only 25% of its ads were reaching the right households. As much as 65% of location-targeted ad spend was wasted.