Programmatic Advertising has been undoubtedly a boon for digital marketers, being one myself I can say that without blinking an eyelash. We can deliver our message/s to the right, the selected audience, and pay as we get the desired result, in contrast to the traditional “spray and pray” method that depended heavily on mass reach.
Although GDN and other ad venues have been around forever, but aggressive use of programmatic has only been a little over to 5–6years now. This means that a very less technical know-how is available to general public. But due to the attached high cost, it is very much the talk of town. Everybody wants to know everything related to programatic marketing and ads, across all industries and verticals — #healthcare, #OilAndGas, #Software, #FinServ, #FMCG, #Energy and more.
So basically, programmatic has increasingly become a favoured solutions due to the huge reach and variety of targeting options. However, thats not why I decided to pen this article. With its growing popularity, it has also become a mark for fraudsters, who are capable of taking advantage of this trend. So I found this imperative to talk a little about the kind of online frauds our ads are subjected to that we must be aware of and how it impacts the overall media budgets.
Kind of Frauds
- Invalid Traffic. It is the traffic that doesn’t come from real users but bots, crawlers and spiders. In the digital ecosystem it may be traffic coming from bots or crawlers but not necessarily need to be nefarious. Google’s spiders that crawl the web to give organic search rankings is one example of General Invalid Traffic that is not counted under suspicion. But Sophisticated invalid traffic category is designed to appear human-like, often for digital mischief.
- Click Injection. This is my favorite. Why? Because I love ABM program, and unfortunately and to no fault to anyone, majority of companies like last-click attribution model in ABM, which is where this fraud happens. To give a plain example — Say for brands running app install campaigns for user acquisition, fraudulent app installs can come from click injection. When a user takes a final action that the advertiser is ultimately paying for, a fraud say X comes and places themselves between point 1 (the final clicked ad) and point 2 (the final desired action, like an app download or form filling). Since advertisers only pay the ad networks or exchanges responsible for a final action, this X uses click injection to take credit of the final click.
- Click Spamming. Also, called Organics Poaching, click spamming happens when a fraudster executes clicks for users who haven’t made them. This let fraudsters claim credit/exchanges for fake clicks.
- Ad Stacking. Most classic case. It happens when multiple ads are stacked on top of each other and a publisher or any party involved claim better impressions, even though the advertisement is obscured by another ad. You end up paying.
There are more types but then these are the top 4 that affects ads and also the overall media spend.
Ad frauds cause inconsistency in the campaign’s success metrics. This is difficult to overcome for two main reasons. Firstly, insights gained from such campaigns are tainted. For example, if an ad receives a lot of impressions but very few clicks due to say ad stacking, marketing teams may assume their messaging is ineffective. Then, they spend time course-correcting their message. This is detrimental in every sense.
Secondly, some marketers may be more aware of the impact of ad fraud on their campaigns. However, they might be influenced by a structural situation that leans towards valuing vanity metrics. For example, if the C-Suite is asking marketers about clicks and impressions rather than how they directly impact sales, marketers may welcome skewed numbers. Many are also not comfortable admitting that their ads have become victim to ad fraud. Everyone desired to look in front of management in the end.
Can we not solve this? To an extent yes, we can!
Analytics comes to the rescue here. This requires a change in not only measuring the metrics but also the organization’s attitude change toward the efforts that the marketing team makes. In addition to it, having leading and lagging indicators benchmarked after each campaign and then adding diagnostic metrics in the end, helps a great deal.