Digital ad spending is estimated at $83 billion in 2017. There are 329 million sites that are competing for page views and a piece of the ad spending. Only 3 percent of these are legitimate sites, viewed by humans.
That means most of these ads are being shown to bots, never converted, and the money is going to fraud.
At mediaXchange 2017 on Monday, Dr. Augustine Fou, Independent Ad Fraud Researcher, went into the issue of ad fraud and the trust problem it is creating. In the session “Audience Development: Monetizing with High Integrity Metrics,” Fou, Alliance for Audited Media CEO, Tom Drouillard and Corporate Director of Audience Development, McClatchy, Daniel E. Schaub discussed the ramifications of ad fraud and the opportunity publishers have to leverage their trusted brands.
“You have the opportunity to offer real people, real connections,” Schaub said. “We’re going to get out of the audience business and into the relationship business.”
Instead of focusing on clicks and impressions, he suggests a future focused on connections and fostering relationships. But how can this be monetized?
Right now, publishers are being victimized by ad fraud. These “bad guys” are what Fou calls sites that carry ads. “I don’t call them publishers because they don’t make content. They either steal, plagiarize, and post fake content or none at all. They don’t have to work as hard as you. They don’t care if they’re user-friendly, they don’t care what they look like. They’re completely fake sites.”
The formula for ad fraud is simple. Buy the traffic for $1, sell an ad for $10 and make $9 pure profit. That’s why it keeps happening. These sites carry hundreds and hundreds of ads, and they are off-putting to users (i.e. rise of ad blockers) and are degrading advertiser trust in publishers.
Programmatic advertising made this crime explode on the scene, with nobody realizing these “impressions” being paid for were fake. Additionally, these “bad guys” scrape data and copy cookies and trackers from legitimate websites.
Fou recommends decreasing the amount of trackers you have on your own website. It will improve load time and user experience while not losing money. It helps establish you as a good publisher at no cost.
The rise of fake news has served as a catalyst for advertisers to start looking for real humans and real relationships over views. “There has never been a more important time for publishers than now,” Fou said. They must fight fake news and ad fraud that has erupted in digital.
Part of doing this is establishing a publication as a verified and trusted source, which is where the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) comes in. They offer a certification process that allows brands to be verified and show a commitment to accuracy and accountability. AAM Quality Certification minimizes digital advertising fraud by linking advertisers with Quality Certified publishers.
Kirsten is the Social Media and Blog Editor at the News Media Alliance.