ADOTAS – With 25 percent of online ad revenue wasted on fraud and 36 percent of impressions derived from fake or bot sites, advertisers may feel there is little they can do to combat this troubling trend. It is clear that fraud continues to plague the advertising ecosystem. And, as of late, paranoia is at an all-time high, with more research exposing the depth of ad fraud; the latest comes from the Wall Street Journal, tackling fraud from a video perspective.
The advertising ecosystem is still fragmented and complex, so as the ecosystem rebalances to address the issue from all sides, there are immediate steps advertisers can take now to reduce the likelihood of fraud with video views. Advertisers can start eliminating fraud by creating engagement opportunities within video advertisements, measuring for detailed engagement, and then using these engagement-focused measurements to identify fraud rapidly to make nimble changes to media buys.
By creating engagement opportunities in video ad units, advertisers will have more data points by which to understand legitimate video views, the good news is that creating interactive video units is easier than ever with the right tools and templates. For example, the IAB has provided the industry with several interactive video units that make more sense for advertisers across the board, called IAB video rising star units. In the last year these have been well tested in the industry, and lead to significant increases in brand awareness and message association. If you are not using these types of interactive video ad units, then now is the time to start.
In the current climate, advertising fraud is accomplished by replicating human views or impressions, but bots or fraudulent sites can’t swipe, click or engage with an ad like an actual person can. That’s why in addition to focusing on impressions or views for campaigns, there needs to be a focus on engagement to combat fraud. For example, if after accumulating millions of impressions or video views an ad receives few, if any, engagements, then it is clear that there’s something not right with the media buy. The ability to gauge fraud internally is becomes increasingly challenging when your ad is being routed through multiple partners, removing you from the final placement. By measuring engagement, advertisers not only see more effective campaigns, but also regain some control to help avoid fraud. If you aren’t measuring engagement, now is the time to start.
Using Engagement and Responding
While monitoring services identify fraudulent activities, those seeking to scam the system continue to find new ways to circumvent existing anti-fraud measures. If from the beginning an advertiser decides to use interactive video units, and has multiple points of engagement to measure from, then they can prepare to respond to fraud once the campaign is live. With the right tools, engagement can be measured in real-time and help identify fraud almost immediately. However, before launch day, advertisers should also determine what level of risk they are willing to take before going live with dollars on the line. Setting a threshold of video views versus engagements by calculating an effective cost per engagement and then adjusting this threshold based on trending results can help an advertiser determine their level of risk. If the resulting cost per engagement seems rather high from certain publishers or media sources, then it is likely that something is afoot.
Engagement gives advertisers control and access to much more information and allows for safeguards against online scams due to the level of measurement advertisers can work out from interactivity. Until server farms can replicate human interaction on a touchscreen device and forge enough data points to fool fraud analytics and metrics, interactivity and engagement are likely the next best logical step forward to avoid video view and impression fraud.
With brand dollars trending toward digital ad products, specifically video advertising, view fraud will continue to grow. Engagement is truly the way to go to reduce fraud, with the added benefit of being an effective strategy for advertisers, it is very difficult to fake or “fat finger” a swipe or share on Facebook. Unlike faked human views, engagement measures are much more honest, and honesty is something I believe the entire industry can get behind.