The Dark Side of Digital Advertising

Attention, advertisers of India!

If you're investing in digital advertising, you're a victim of some form of ad fraud. This may come as a shock to you, or you're relatively new to this. For the latter, we understand.

Advertisers lost Rs. 11300 crores ($1.63 Billion) to Ad Fraud in 2018 (according to a report by TechARC), yet they fail to realize the extent of this problem. We don't blame them since there's very little information about this on the web.

It's difficult to understand who's committing fraud and who can protect you from it. As an advertiser, if you rely on Agencies, Ad Networks, Publishers, or Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) to eradicate Ad Fraud, you'll be on your own to defend yourselves.

Most large enterprises have an entire team of specialists in charge of managing digital campaigns and minimizing ad fraud's impact.

However, most online businesses rely on Google Analytics or any other web analytical tool to monitor their campaigns. They believe that ad networks, DSPs, or other platforms monitoring bot traffic for them will be enough.

But is it?

Unfortunately, no! 😒

Although the most common form of ad fraud is when fraudsters use bots to get paid for impressions and clicks on advertisements, there are more than 15 ways your ad spends can be looted.

How does this happen?

There are millions of bad bots traversing the internet every day, and many of them have gotten better at acting like humans. These bots pass through your system and affect the metrics on which you set your campaign goals.

As a media buyer, when you bid or buy in the digital advertising space, decisions are made based on Analytics and the provided target audience. Few of us directly buy from publishers, while most advertisers use an ad network, like Google, AppNexus, Pubmatic, etc. These systems have simplified the buying process as it allows advertisers to purchase multiple placements at once.

This system allows fraudsters to take advantage by spoofing and creating low-quality sites and selling them as high-value inventory. Instead of humans, the ads are then clicked on by numerous malicious bots that bleed your ad budget little by little until it is entirely exhausted. Also, often these malicious bots acting as humans get tagged for re-marketing campaigns.

This is bad news for the advertising industry, as most of us won't be able to tell the difference between a bot acting like a human and an actual human. Our analytical numbers are manipulated with false data, tricking us into thinking that the campaigns are performing, and we end up re-investing and wasting more of our marketing budgets.  

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