Fake content is getting some attention thanks to Facebook and Google. But another problem digital publishers need to deal with is a big one: advertising fraud. Ad fraud is pervasive in the publishing industry, and it’s likely affecting you.
When marketers buy advertising, they’re paying for human interactions. However, more and more often, those interactions are with bots: software programs that visit web pages, which record them as page views. As bots continue to grow in sophistication, they’re increasingly able to mimic users’ browsing behaviors. Unfortunately, bots do not buy, which decreases advertisers’ conversion rates and impacts their returns on investment.
To combat fraud, publishers need to be diligent about where they source their traffic and use the latest software tools to monitor ad fraud and cut off sources that supply bots. Accountable and transparent practices regarding conversion numbers and the ability to monitor ads for quality and performance can help eliminate fraud and distinguish solid marketing options from sketchy ones.
As a magazine publisher, arm yourself with knowledge about possible fraudulent ad practices and consequences. Create dynamic, proactive policies to combat ad fraud. Because of widespread third-party traffic sourcing practices, reputable publishers can provide audits that demonstrate who their audiences are. They closely monitor their third-party sources for indicators of possible fraud and track where ads are coming from. Advertisers should insist that publishers provide statistics on viewable impressions rather than total impressions and refuse to buy ad space from publishers who can’t.
Publishers and advertisers alike face digital ad fraud. It impacts all aspects of the publisher-advertiser relationship as an audience may not see relevant ads. Fraud drives advertising costs higher, doesn’t provide desired returns, and erodes trust. It’s up to advertisers to demand demonstrable traffic metrics and up to publishers to put the necessary detection and prevention technologies in place to provide that.