Industry body launches latest initiative to help tackle online ad fraud


Online ad fraud is one of the biggest challenges the digital marketing industry faces at the moment, with fake traffic costing advertisers $6.3 billion this year alone. The challenge of course is identifying it and then prioritising efforts to deal with it.

A new classification ranking of the different types of online ad fraud may therefore help. The taxonomy has been published by the UK’s Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) and identifies 16 different malicious (possibly fraudulent) and non-malicious sources of non-human traffic.

The traffic identified ranges from definitely fraudulent types such as hijacked devices and crawlers masquerading as legitimate users to other types such as AdWare or proxy traffic which, whilst potentially fraudulent, can also have legitimate uses.

JICWEBS’ chairman Richard Foan said that the new classification was another important step in reducing the risk of online ad fraud. “To address such a complex topic as online ad fraud first requires understanding what type of activity can enable it,” he said.

The list follows the publication last June by JICWEBS of an initial set of best practises to reduce the risk of exposure to fraud. That included suggestions such as safe sourcing and for advertisers setting clear objectives for media campaigns that focus on real ROI.

The next step in the fight against online fraud will see a review of companies that claim to comply with the industry agreed best practises. Those that pass the review will receive a JICWEBS seal, confirming that their processes further reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served.

Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, the voice of British Advertisers, said: “ISBA and its members Shell, Santander, and Unilever have worked with industry partners on the JICWEBS Cross-Industry Anti-Fraud Working Group to reduce the risk to exposure to ad fraud. The Group has developed definitions, cross industry guidelines and principles which help advertisers and their partners involved in buying, selling and serving of digital display advertising, distinguish and identify fraud,” he said.

“Advertising is an ever-evolving ecosystem especially within the digital field,” said Wootton. “The fraudsters are also looking to be a step ahead of the game so this guidance will be updated as and when necessary. The objective is to restore the trust which advertisers expect across all the media channels they use, notably online, and thus restore their confidence in the channel."

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