Published on April 15, 2015
Digital advertising is a thriving $50 billion industry, with double-digit growth. However, an issue that dominates the industry is ad viewability, which is further complicated by the proliferation of ad fraud, estimated at $6 billion*. If the industry is to continue its success, it must confront the ad fraud issue head on. The Media Rating Council (MRC) addressed viewability by issuing measurement guidelines that help ensure advertisers are charged only for viewable impressions. This is an important step in maintaining advertiser confidence. However, these specifications can also be exploited to manufacture non-human impressions via botnets, crawlers, and traffic laundering. While some non-human traffic, such as spiders and crawlers, keep the Internet running (indexing the Web for example), many others are producing fraudulent activity that skew metrics while “stealing” money and data. In order to understand how to fight ad fraud, it is important to understand how viewability measurements work, how bots commit fraud, and the best practices employed by digital partners to help ensure that advertisers are protected.