Eric Porres Tue Feb 27, 2018

People always complain about politicians not being honest.

Elected officials may have their own reasons for giving false statements and half-baked promises through deceptive smiles. However, marketers concerned about digital video advertising need to face the facts about video ad fraud.

The truth is that the combination of sight, sound and motion is a tantalizing concoction for any advertiser. But if brands neglect to address ad fraud in the creation and delivery of digital content, the damage to brand equity and consumer confidence is catastrophic.

What is ad fraud, exactly?

To unpack the definition of the term would be to classify it under any number of buzzword-heavy categories – keyword stuffing, ad stacking, domain spoofing, click fraud, malware, bot nets, cloaking IP addresses, forged analytical reporting and forged social media log-in data. Even without an intimate familiarity of these technical difficulties, advertisers must be able to identify the warning signs of ad fraud – specifically, traffic that is mechanical instead of human; zero viewability; and intentional misrepresentation.  

With regards to a video center of excellence, these same parameters can be established as a benchmark for fraud. In other words, the ad must be delivered and appropriate for the consumer; actively seen by a human being (as opposed to getting picked up by a bot or automatically played in the background); and placed in its proper contextual environment.  

The raw data acquired through the video center of excellence reveals the ugly truth, warts and all, about the quality of the ad experience and whether ad fraud was involved. This obligates brands to study the data points rigorously in comparison to their video campaigns in the marketplace. If an advertiser is seeing performance irrelevant to a video campaign, receiving poor analytical data – such as high bounce rates or short session durations – or observing abnormally high click-through rates, suspicious site lists and IP addresses, then behaviors are likely fraudulent. Whatever the results, a careful examination of the statistics – measured against the standards of the video center of excellence – helps advertisers engage more effectively with consumers to deliver a high-quality video on every impression, reducing further possibility of ad fraud.

The formation of a video center of excellence requires advertisers to take an active role in the conversation about ad fraud, opening up a dialogue with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and a trustworthy accountability group (TAG) for certification against fraud. 

In seeking to partner with a leading provider against fraudulent activity, the individuals who comprise a brand’s video center of excellence should ask five questions of any potential vendor:

  1. How do you assess or monitor fraudulent activity?
  2. How are you integrating with those partners?
  3. Are you dedicating internal resources to an understanding of ad fraud and its potential impact on your business?
  4. Are you committed to working with companies that have been certified against fraud?
  5. Are you actively pursuing supply partners that use the ads.text protocol? (it’s a verification to confirm the purchase of ad inventory from an intended publisher, to prevent domain spoofing)

SundaySky is currently working with the IAB to take an industry leadership position on ad fraud, joining forces with companies who are developing solutions to identify and combat any kind of fraudulent activity, including Double Verify, IAS and Moat. SundaySky is also developing preliminary filtering and assessment solutions for all purchased ad inventory, staying one step ahead of any bad actors in the fight against ad fraud.

The truth isn’t always pretty, but ad fraud is downright ugly. An advertiser that allows itself to be disarmed by the honest reporting of a video center of excellence can hold itself, its partners and its agencies accountable for a high-quality video experience.

And that ain’t no lie.

If you didn’t catch our first installment of this series before or click the link in the article above, make sure to retroactively do so. If you have been following our Video Center of Excellence series, stayed tuned for interviews with some experts on the subject in the coming weeks.

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