The digital marketing industry may already be facing a headache over ad-blockers, viewability and effectiveness but the rise of ad fraud is likely to turn that into a head-splitting migraine which will cost brand-owners $7.2bn (£5.1bn) this year – up from $6.3bn (£4.45bn) in 2015.
That is according to a new report from the Association of National Advertisers in the States, whose members collectively spend more than $250bn a year on marketing; it cites fraudsters’ increasing use of ad bots as the key issue.
Carried out by online ad fraud firm White Ops, the findings are based on an expected 15% rise in digital ad spending this year.
ANA president Bob Liodice told the FT that the findings underscore “the need for the entire marketing ecosystem to manage their media investments with far greater discipline and control against a backdrop of increasingly sophisticated fraudsters”.
“When you look at the entire technology equation, you have a number of things going on that can be paralysing to a marketer. Who do we trust?”
The survey tracked nearly 10 billion ad impressions over two months from 49 advertisers, including McDonald’s, AB InBev and Unilever, revealing that about one in 10 display ads were viewed by bots and about a quarter of online video ad views were also hit.
“While there is recognition that this exists in the marketplace, I do not believe that the industry has rallied hard enough or aggressively enough to solve this,” Liodice claimed.
Programmatic buying was also found to be more vulnerable to bot fraud than buying ad space directly from online publishers, the study showed. Programmatic display ads were viewed by 14% more bots than the study’s average and programmatically bought video spots had 73% more bot views.
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