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ANA: Fight Against Bot Fraud Is Winnable

New report says programmatic no riskier than general market buys 5/24/2017 9:44 AM Eastern

The Association of National Advertising projects a 10% decline in digital ad fraud in 2017.

That's according to the group's third annual Bot Baseline Report.

A bright spot for programmatic media buys is that the ANA report concludes they are no longer riskier than general market buys, which ANA attributes to media agency improvement in filtering and control.

Bot fraud -- paying for online eyeballs and getting bot visits instead -- is projected to result in $6.5 billion in economic losses in 2017, down from the $7.2 billion in last year's study.

But there are plenty of opportunities to spend on bots rather than eyeballs. The report says that about a fifth of all the websites across the "entire buying universe" have nothing but bot visits.

The decline in bot fraud comes even as digital ad spending is expected to increase by 10% or more.

ANA titled the report "Bot Baseline 2016-2017," but said itself a better headline might be "The War on Digital Ad Fraud Is Winnable!" -- for those who pay attention and set proper controls.

ANA polled 49 member companies on digital ad activity between October 2016 and January 2017. Among the advertisers participating were Comcast, AT&T, Coke, Kellogg’s and Kimberly-Clarke.

The study found that purchasing traffic from "inorganic sources" was the biggest risk factor. The study found that almost a quarter (22%) of spending on desktop video was fraudulent, while that figure was 9% for desktop display ads.

Not surprisingly, digital fraud spiked around holiday periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as at the end of a quarter, which obviously has implications for how spending is managed.

"[A]rmed with the knowledge that fraud moves in tune with seasonality, planning and buying in a manner countercyclical to industry norms may be a strategy to help minimize fraud," the report said.

The report also offered ways to bring those numbers even lower, including demanding transparency for sourced traffic and making it clear in contracts that non-human traffic will not be paid for.

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