A Florida company was generating $1.5 million dollars a month in online ads using fake websites, according to Ad Age. It wasn’t all that hard. They set up websites and then listed them as places to advertise in automated ad-buying markets, including some of the industry’s biggest names. Then, they hit the sites hard with bots – automated click programs – to drive up impressions. Then, they simply disappeared, presumably with the money on hand.
Financial Times recently published an item about the latest online advertising campaign by Mercedes-Benz. In analyzing the campaign, Telemetry UK – a company that focuses on ad fraud detection – said that in a sample of 365,000 ads that 57% were viewed by bots not people. One of the ad network companies that placed the ad responded saying that’s only part of the story. It said that in delivering 1.1 trillion impressions of client ads, it rejected more than 497 billion bot impressions.
Bots and Ad Fraud in general are a problem for the digital ad business. It’s impacting sales and results.
It’s no wonder 65% of digital agencies say it’s critical to have a safe and “low-fraud environment” in the digital ad environment in a MyersBizNet survey. 78% of Brand marketers, the folks that buy the ads, say it’s their number one concern. The number two concern from marketers is bot traffic, which drives up viewing numbers fraudulently.
The fact it’s that big a concern is troubling, but understandable. Click fraud – when you’re paying per click – is a significant problem. An Integral Ad Science study suggests that as much as 10.5% of ad network clicks and 6.1% of publisher sites ads are fraudulent.
How big is that? The Association of National Advertisers figures it’s more than $7 billion dollars of advertising spend. Several ad-industry trade groups got together recently to try to do something about ad fraud by launching a new initiative by offering a certification program to buyers, sellers, and third-parties.
“(It) underscores the need for the entire marketing ecosystem to manage their media investments with far greater discipline and control against a backdrop of increasingly sophisticated fraudsters.” Bob Liodice, ANA president.