Adloox believes scale of ad fraud may be significantly larger than previously reported

WPP-backed communications group The&Partnership and content verification specialists Adloox have joined forces to launch a new investigation into the scale and impact of ad fraud, as insights from Adloox suggest the extent of adspend wasted globally each year on fraudulent websites and views may be larger than previously reported.

Johnny Hornby, Founder of The&Partnership, said: “New formats of fraudulent activity are appearing all the time and, as the strategies behind them become more sophisticated, the risks to brands and publishers increase. From our conversations with Adloox, we have reason to suspect the amount of global adspend going to waste each year on fraudulent websites, non-human views and through content fraud may be higher than recent reports, such as the US’s Assocation of National Advertisers’ $7.2bn, suggest.*

“According to Adloox, these reports may even have underestimated the problem by as much as 50%. If this is the case, we must get to the bottom of it – which is why we’re partnering with Adloox to launch a new study, investigating whether ad fraud is costing our clients even more than we are aware, and outlining the implications for brands, publishers, tech companies and the media industry.”

Marco Ricci, CEO of Adloox, said: “Our early insights suggest that a significant proportion of fraud is going undetected – even by other specialists – and that the scale of the problem could even be twice as high as previously reported. Much deeper auditing of ad campaigns, and more stringent health checks on supplier sources of audience traffic are needed if we want to get to the bottom of ad fraud, and stop the problem growing.”

Founded in 2009, Adloox’s Fraud Forensics team specialises in pre-bid content verification – using specialist technology to weed out fraudulent websites and non-human users, preventing a bid before it even takes place on the programmatic exchange.

Adloox is the UK content verification partner for media agency m/SIX, which is a partner in The&Partnership. Together, Adloox and m/SIX have reduced non-human traffic for clients such as TalkTalk to less than 0.3%, far below the industry benchmark of 10-15%. Adloox has also increased viewability for its clients to nearer 75%, far above the ‘accepted’ benchmark of 40-50%.

“Although almost all major brands have some form of verification policy in place, many of them are only ‘monitoring’ their viewability scores on a post-bid model after the automated sale has already taken place, and not taking into account that the fraudsters are skewing their viewability,” said Ricci.

“The reality is most post-bid verification policies are failing to track the majority of fraudulent malpractice. This is because most of the fraud is hiding deeper than the website or ‘declared domain’ level, and only by pre-emptively excluding the deeper, hidden fraud via a pre-bid strategy will we see uplifts in performance.

“We need to move away from top-line brand safety scores and meaningless benchmarks of acceptability, and start verifying the underlying symptoms of fraud, to catch and blacklist fraudsters before they become a problem for brands.”