Why Digital Ad Fraud Needs to Be Addressed First

May 3, 2018

Fraud impacts all downstream measurements. Learn some practical tips for bringing confidence back to digital advertising.

Brian Condon, Executive Vice President, Commercial Development


Digital advertising faces many issues—fraud, brand safety, viewability—that all make headlines. Juniper Research estimates that advertisers will lose $51 million per day on ad fraud in 2018, totaling $19 billion over the year. This reality is causing many marketers to rethink and reallocate their ad spends. But since all the issues impact how ROI is measured, which one should be addressed first?

The answer is ad fraud. If the customer journey doesn’t start with a human interacting with the ad, all downstream measurements are flawed.


Ad Fraud Must Be Acknowledged Upfront to Give Marketers Confidence

Ad Fraud Must Be Acknowledged Upfront to Give Marketers Confidence

Everyone in the industry—buyer and seller—has a responsibility to fight against ad fraud. Here are four practical steps for publishers and marketers:


  1. Adhere to Best Practices
    Know your business practices for monetizing your site, sourcing traffic and choosing vendors, and educate your staff on best practices as well.
  2. Use Accredited Vendors
    Implement tech to prohibit ads from being served to known bots.
  3. Actively Manage Media Monetization
    Dedicate staff to review traffic patterns and sources.
  4. Understand Traffic Sources
    Revisit and scrutinize current traffic sourcing practices.


  1. Know Who You Do Business With
    It’s important to have confidence that you’re buying on legitimate websites. Use whitelists to prioritize your media buys and execute those buys through private marketplaces or directly with publishers.
  2. Actively Manage Media Investments
    Dedicate staff to managing placement reports and ask for site-level detail about the campaigns you run.
  3. Require a Higher Level of Accountability
    Hold your media partners accountable by asking them to implement ads.txt, get audited and use accredited vendors.
  4. Focus on Outcomes
    Know the limitations of your measurements. Recognize that ad fraud measurement doesn’t eliminate ad fraud.


How AAM is Helping in the Fight Against Ad Fraud

The main advertising associations in North America—the Association of National Advertisers and Association of Canadian Advertisers—asked AAM to develop a digital publisher audit program to minimize digital ad fraud. Independent, third-party publisher auditing has minimized fraud in other forms of media and has the potential to transform the digital ad market.

AAM’s Quality Certification program reduces digital ad fraud by differentiating good publishers and ensuring they are doing everything they can to serve marketers’ ads to humans.

AAM reviews the publisher’s processes, practices and procedures as part of a continuous audit that monitors site activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to ensure consistent practices are followed. Publishers must promptly remediate any issues that are discovered during monitoring.

Learn more about ad fraud and AAM Quality Certification by downloading the whitepaper: 3 Truths That Help Confront the Ad Fraud Crisis.

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