On June 26th, Kathy Leake, CEO of Qualia, wrote a very thoughtful column entitled “We Need Clearer Fraud Definitions, More Standard Measurement.” In it, she called for fraud definitions to be agreed upon between buyers and sellers and for pre-emptive fraud protection. We couldn’t agree more!
On the fraud definitions, there are very clear cases of ad fraud – NHT (non-human traffic), bots (which fall into NHT), ad stacking, hidden ads, etc. but others that are less clear cut. If a publisher runs 10 ads on a page, is that fraud? How about 7, or 5? What about running an ad at the very bottom of the page or on a page with very little content? What about auto play video? How should we view ads (overlays) that are served smack in the middle of the content so the user has to close it in order to reach their content? As a user, I hate those ads – but are they fraud or just ill-advised? What if you can’t close the overlay without inadvertently clicking? Guidance and agreement on what constitutes ad fraud vs. sketchy publisher practices is warranted.
Fighting ad fraud before the ad is served would be a far more efficient and effective method. Currently, most ad fraud identification is done at the impression level, so by definition it is performed after the ad is served. However, if that intel is then fed back into a system that also contains a dynamically updated black list of known fraudulent and malicious sites which are then used in pre-bid decisioning, that impression becomes the sacrificial lamb and subsequent impressions are protected against further fraud. This is how the anti-virus industry works – the first machine that is infected informs the AV engine and then a signature is written, providing protection against further infections for the rest of the machines. The beautiful part of such a system is that every customer of the AV company benefits from that single machine as the signature is rolled out to everyone. The wider the footprint of a company, the more protection they can provide because they have greater visibility. zvelo has visibility into 99% of the web.