Digital advertising permanently transformed the advertising industry, introducing new immediacy and responsiveness. Advertisers can now mine user trends and big data to switch tactics and precisely target individuals in ways that just weren’t possible before.
But there is a dark side to this efficiency-enabling technology: fraud.
Criminals using their own traffic bots have created a marketplace where large numbers of ad transactions are fake. According to Adweek, digital advertising was a $43.8 billion industry in 2015 and $6.3 billion of it (nearly 15%) was based on fraudulent activity.
To preserve trust, the industry must reduce fraud risks and ensure the most “clean inventory” possible– ad impressions generated by real end users, not bots. A new Equinix white paper, “How Fraud Is Plaguing the Online Advertising Industry (And How a New ‘Clean’ Approach Offers a Cure),” discusses how the Equinix Ad-IX digital advertising ecosystem and the anti-fraud software company Forensiq joined forces to create an interconnection platform where inventory can be reviewed and fraudulent impressions can be more easily identified within the real-time-bidding (RTB) window.
More efficient, more vulnerable
For most of the 20th century, advertising used pretty much the same channels – print ads, broadcast radio and TV, billboard, direct mail, etc. Then, Google shook up the relatively new online advertising industry in the early 21st century by creating advanced algorithms that made it easy for advertisers to target individuals based on their viewing preferences.
Now, ad revenues are based on a model in which advertisers pay a publisher (a website owner or ad network to whom the publisher has sold their inventory) more money the more times an ad slot is shown to a specific type of viewer. The fraud is committed in various ways. For instance, it could be an ill-intentioned publisher using traffic bots to repeatedly call a Web address that contains an ad slot, so advertisers pay the publisher for fake ad impressions.
The priority, then, becomes buying from “clean” inventory. But the Equinix white paper notes there are major obstacles.
One is that the entire Internet architecture can suffer from significant latency issues. High-latency in a high-speed environment – where data is exchanged in milliseconds – means there’s less time for anti-fraud measures and software to determine if the traffic is fake within the RTB window. In addition, the latency issue is exacerbated if the parties involved in the ad transaction are geographically dispersed or if there are multiple ISP networks between the advertised and the ad exchange.
According to the Equinix white paper, “What’s needed is a truly safe digital traffic platform, one that removes latency and allows anti-fraud initiatives time to determine which participants are real and which are not. That’s where the Equinix Ad-IX Ecosystem featuring Forensiq comes into play.”
The Ad-IX ecosystem enables the bidding and trading of ad inventory through a highly efficient infrastructure. Nearly every major industry player optimizes their own performance using Ad-IX: ad exchanges, media buyers, data platforms, data aggregators and major networks. And they’re all interconnected on Equinix’s global data center platform.
Ad-IX delivers direct and secure interconnection, which overcomes the delays that arise from geographic dispersal and dramatically cuts latency (by 500% in proof of concept testing). That lower latency allows more time for more anti-fraud analytics.
Forensiq’s anti-fraud software takes advantage of the extra time provided by Ad-IX, and the odds of detection increase. Among Forensiq’s methods:
- Fraud intelligence database quickly ferrets out repeat offenders
- Ad viewability instantly detects if ads are actually being viewed by humans
- True URL automatically reveals the real URL of a suspect ad
For more details on how Ad-IX and Forensiq combine to prevent online advertising fraud, download “How Fraud Is Plaguing the Online Advertising Industry (And How a New ‘Clean’ Approach Offers a Cure).”