Google has been running tests secretly with digital marketing companies and media giants to get rid of fraudulent digital ads. Many industry leaders are relying on a technical solution, ads.txt to deal with the problem.  

The digital advertising industry is looking for a solution to root out fraudulent ad inventory such as websites that claim to be the top brands but are actually of low-quality and don’t get enough traffic.

Google with the help of some media agencies is trying to create transparency in digital advertising industry. The company is taking an initiative of ads.txt that is aimed at stamping out all the bogus ads. Bluffing includes a variety of ways ad buyers can be tricked into paying for a banner ad space they are not getting. Scammers can buy ad space at low cost, from a low-quality website, on an exchange and deceitfully list their site on a premium site.

It is enabled by the advent of programmatic ads, which are displayed by metrics and acquired on exchanges, instead of direct dealing with an advertiser. This practice is affecting publishers that don’t sell ads via programmatic channels. Many publishers think they have been hearing from ad buyers that their ads are for sale on various ad exchanges. However, these companies didn’t work with any ad exchanges to sell advertising.

Google Secretly Runs Tests to Identify Ad Frauds

Google has been performing tests with the help of major media giants such as The New York Times, CBS, and NBCU, people are familiar with. While conducting these tests, Google and the supporting companions blocked all their programmatic and inventory for a short of period of time and then cleaned the ad exchanges to check what is listed. Google and the partners found thousands of videos and display ad spaces were still available on different ad exchanges, although there was not a single ad available for sale at that time.

Besides Google, different ad-tech executives from different agencies searched for some bogus ads on exchanges and they think they easily found a number of fraudulent ads for sale. The Marketing Science Consulting Group that is specializing in researching misrepresented ads, found a significant number amount of ad inventory available from an anonymous publisher.

A representative from AppNexus said that “We are unaware of all the major publishers running such tests and finding problematic selling in our industry. We are trying to get rid of this fraudulent ad inventory. We are strong supporters of ads.txt which we think as reinforcement of our long-lasting policies and practices. We have also created strong technology to detect domain”.

Oath which is owned by Verizon has also invested in proprietary technology on buying platforms, the company is aiming to implement supply transparency and avoid domain spoofing across the majority of supply partners. If truth be told, Oath’s technology can block millions of bluffed bid requests each day. With AB partnership, industry-leading third party fraud measurement across the platforms and human review safeguards. They aim to a transparent and secure supply chain for their advertiser partners.

PubMatic works closely with its publisher clients to help them manage their digital inventory.

Smart AdServer thinks quality is very important and views it as a big problem for the whole ad tech industry. They are enthusiastic supporters of the ad.txt initiative and are actively working with their publishers to help them implement it. They have a dedicated department that works directly with leading external brand safety agencies that pre and post-auction to analyze, block and remove bot-generated traffic and fraudulent domains.

The Fraud-Ad Problem

A survey conducted by eMarketer suggests that digital marketers are expected to spend $83 billion on digital ads in the US in 2017.  The more the advertisers spend, the greater the opportunity for scammers. Some statistics also suggest that in 2017, sophisticated ad-fraud perpetrators could cost the ad business more than $16 billion globally.

Usually hackers sell ads on bogus websites using computer programs called bots that can mimic human behavior, as people are visiting websites or clicking on ads. There are some companies that frequently encountered people claiming to have their right to sell their ads when they don’t buy their ads. But some big marketers look for better transparency in their digital ad-buying.  

Use Google’s Ads.txt Solution to Weed out Spoofing

Google has also hosted CEOs of different leading ad-buying tech agencies that serve as major buyers on ad exchanges to use ads.txt as a solution.

Initially ads.txt was proven by Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab with support from the trade group TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group). It is a technical solution tailor-made to protect web publishers from any unauthorized companies selling their ads through programmatic ad exchanges.

By simply inserting a text file on websites, web publishers can make it clear who are allowed to sell their ad space and who are not. If publishers implement the ads.txt solution and ad buyers make an effort to buy only those ads that are from authentic sellers, this will simply weed out bogus ads inventory.

Brands Should Take Serious action

Some major developments should analyze all the online advertising businesses and digital marketers should carefully check where their ads are running, how they pay for them and who is getting dollars they are spending online.  

Over the last few months, Google has been facing multiple online advertisers pulling out of YouTube after ads were found along with low-quality videos. The ad industry demands more clarity from digital media and needs to get rid of all the crap media supply chain.

There is a majority of media giants that still don’t know who are allowed to sell their ads on the web and who are not. As there are many programmatic exchanges that have made big public pledges to refuse bad sellers. Media companies can make the most out of ads.txt solution and easily stay away from the ad fraud problem.  

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