3 Percent of Publishers Actually Cause 68 Percent of Ad Fraud Problem
A new study by Fraudlogix shows that a majority of ad fraud is concentrated in a small percentage of sources within the real-time bidding (RTB) programmatic market. The study, titled “Sources of Fraudulent Impressions in the Programmatic RTB Market” is a helpful inventory to help RTB programmatic advertisers understand the extent of ad fraud and the true origin.
Fraudlogix, the ad fraud detection company, which specializes in monitoring ad traffic for companies on the sell-side of the RTB digital ecosystem, analyzed 1.3 billion impressions from over 59,000 sources over a 30-day period and found that 68.2 percent of fake impressions came from just 3.2 percent of sources (i.e., publishers).
Fraudulent activity is not evenly distributed in the ecosystem – fake impressions are concentrated in a few areas of the marketplace, and these areas account for most of the ad fraud in the system.
Additionally, it found that those sources that generated the highest percentage of fraudulent impressions contributed a disproportionately high amount of impressions to the RTB market. Sites with more than 90 percent fraudulent impressions accounted for only 0.9 percent of publishers but contributed 10.9 percent of the market’s impressions. This signifies how detrimental fraudulent publishers can be to market quality as sites generating fake impressions can quickly outpace sites sending real traffic.
Ad Fraud Perpetrators or Victims – Who will Make the Distinction?
In an exclusive call with us, Fraudlogix CEO Hagai Shechter explains about the damage ad fraud accusations do to honest publishers. Hagai mentions, “The vast majority of publishers are good legitimate players in an industry accused of ad fraud. In reality, they themselves are victims of bad players that have infiltrated the industry. More should be done to root out these bad players without collateral damage to the honest publishers.”
Fake Impressions Contributed by Very Small Percentage of Publishers
Getting to the root of ad fraud, Hagai Shechter says, “Getting to the root of ad fraud problem means looking at where fake impressions are originating – and they’re coming from a very small percentage of publishers who are flooding the market with fake impressions.”
Overall, the study found 18.8 percent of impressions to be fraudulent. An impression was considered fraudulent (or fake) if a combination of digital and behavior characteristics synonymous with ad traffic generated through fraudulent means such as bots, scripts, hijacked devices and click farms was detected.
Hagai adds, “Some of these publishers are outright criminal organizations who set up ghost sites with the sole purpose of monetizing with fake traffic. Others are legitimate publishers to some degree but try to supplement their sites’ traffic by buying very cheap clicks. And any click traffic offered for a fraction of a cent is likely fake.”
Blame for Ad Fraud Wrongly Aimed at Legitimate Sources
Fraudlogix’s objective of the study was to analyze the root entry points, or sources, of fraudulent impressions to determine the distribution of ad fraud in the RTB programmatic market. Ad fraud is often reported as affecting a flat percentage of ad traffic within the marketplace with little mention of how it’s distributed among publishers.
“This study is not meant to downplay the risk of ad fraud or delegitimize marketers’ concerns,” said Shechter, “This is about painting a clearer picture of the marketplace and the state of ad fraud. Too many good publishers are getting blamed for the actions of a few fraudulent players. The high percentages of fake impressions often reported do not accurately represent the market as a whole.”
The study reveals that legitimate publishers should refrain from trying to supplement their site’s traffic by buying very cheap click traffic. any click traffic offered for a fraction of a cent will likely to be fake. As Hagai puts it, “The good news is that we don’t have a 20, 30, 50% fraud problem (depending on who you follow). Our industry has a 3% fraud problem and if we can clamp down on that, everyone but the criminals will be much better for it.”
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