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Brands Are Finally Policing Ad Fraud

|Includes: TubeMogul (TUBE)

Ad fraud appears to be on everyone's mind now that the mainstream media has been writing about it. And that means national brands have decided to do something about it. It's the first time since we can remember that the people who pay the bills (brand advertisers) have ever taken the time to study where their money is going.

Suddenly, there was a firestorm of activity in the press about ad fraud - perhaps because there had been a rash of ad tech IPOs that forced many business writers to learn the digital advertising industry.In April TubeMogul announced a new form of online click fraud affecting certain video sites, and in May a young New Yorker was accused of ad fraud on Facebook. Last month came the Wall Street Journal article on unseen video ads.

Advertisers couldn't ignore the problem any longer when that story claimed at least half of all ads were never seen. That's a lot of advertising spend going down the drain. Especially since the advent of RTB, media planners have sought reach and scale at the expense of quality. Now that's about to change. After all, botnet traffic doesn't buy products.

Thirty members of the Association of National Advertisers, which represents major brands across all industries have signed on to a new ANA initiative called "The Marketers' Coalition." According to ANA's press release, these brands have agreed to participate in a pilot research study to learn how much of their individual ad buys include fraudulent traffic for which they pay.

The Marketers' Coalition members

will include White Ops tags in their existing digital media over the month of August in an attempt to get a read on the percentage of display, video, mobile, and social campaigns affected by bot fraud. Individual participants will get proprietary reports at the end of the experiment with information on overall fraud rate, fraud broken down by platform (desktop versus mobile), format, and channel (publisher versus network or exchange). The ANA also plans to aggregate the results and release them industry-wide around September or October.

In the case of ZINC campaigns that run through private marketplaces, ZINC technology blocks fraudulent traffic. We are also very careful who we choose to be our publisher parters. What we just can't control is the activities of third parties, although we really try. It's in everybody's interest to wipe out the dark side of our industry.