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How advertisers can deal with ad blocking & ad fraud

The advertising industry all around the world has been facing two big problems: ad-blocking and ad-fraud. These problems have been costing the industry billions of dollars annually.

While there isn’t a quick and easy solution to get around ad-blocking and ad-fraud, there are a few steps advertisers can take to minimize their risk and help reduce their losses.

Hint: It requires stringent checks to detect campaign irregularity and to act upon it as quickly as possible.

1. Measure ad viewability to detect ad-blocks
Ad-blockers have become a problem for advertisers who implement CPM-based campaigns. Advertisers lose money when their ads are loaded in the publishers’ website, but aren’t presented to the user due to a third party extension known as an ad-blocker or content blocker.

In cases like these, advertisers can try measuring ad viewability. For those who aren’t familiar with this term, it basically refers to a method where advertisers can measure whether their ad has been loaded within the browser window and is actually visible to users. With this feature, advertisers are able to detect whether their ad was actually seen.

One sure way to identify ad-blockers is to place the ad on the very top of the publisher’s page. Theoretically, this leads to the ad having an estimated 100 per cent viewability within those pages, unless an ad-blocker gets in the way.

Takeaways:
● Invest in viewability measurement tools
● Change the ad campaign strategy whenever irregular viewership is recorded
● Alternatively, implement a vCPM campaign, which are more costly than CPM campaigns but have increased benefits

2. Set specific conversion goals to detect ad-fraud
CPC-based campaigns on the other hand, have been known to lead to ad-fraud. This is because there’s no guarantee that the one clicking on the ad is a human. It could also lead to unethical issues, where certain publishers could lure the user to click the ad by disguising it as something else.

One way to deal with this is to set specific conversion goals for ad campaigns. While e-commerce firms can set ‘purchases’ as a conversion goal, other advertisers can set other actions. For example, ‘newsletter subscription and user sign-ups’ could be a possible conversion goal. Even something as simple as multiple pageviews could act as a conversion goal.

While some bots are smarter than the rest, setting specific conversion goals such as the ones mentioned above could help advertisers detect irregularities in their ROAS metrics. For instance, advertisers can detect potential ad-frauds when a huge number of clicks has been recorded from one particular publisher, but their ROAS metric is way below the industry average.

This is an area where programmatic advertising solutions (disclosure: I run a programmatic advertising firm) excels in comparison to ad networks. With the help of the role separation of DSP (which handles the advertisers’ side) and SSP (which handles the publishers’ side), programmatic advertising solutions are naturally more transparent when it comes to ROAS reports. Advertisers will be able to see specifically how their ads have been distributed, along with specific, publisher-based performance.

Takeaways:
● Set specific conversion goals
● Trace ROAS regularly
● Change the ad campaign strategy when ROAS metrics look sketchy or irregular

3. Alternatively, identify bots using DMP
The process of identifying bots is quite tricky. The majority of Web Analytic tools available on the market are not capable enough to identify bots.

Data Management Platforms (DMPs) can aggregate and save quite a bit of information about a particular user such as their cookies and IP address. In a way, it can track a user’s behaviour and determine whether it’s an actual human being or a bot. Typical robot behaviour could include generating high impressions or clicks that result in no conversions.

Using DMP, advertisers are able detect bots and modify their campaign strategy accordingly. Advertisers can also optimise their budget spending by targeting specific users, and pushing ads more suitable to their behaviour.

It’s always a good idea to work with local DMP players, since they usually have a better understanding of users in that country. It is important to have the right local expertise to make sense of all the information you can learn from a DMP.

Takeaways:
● Explore the possibility of a DMP to avoid bots and target specific users
● Whenever possible, explore partnership with local DMP players

Italo Gani

Italo Gani is The Co-founder and CEO of ADSKOM, a digital advertising exchange company with offices in Indonesia; Singapore; and USA. He is also the Co-founder and Chairman of InboundID, a leading Inbound Marketing agency in Indonesia. He always believe in building the adtech industry in SEA. He is also actively supporting various associations, conferences & seminars in Indonesia as speakers in sharing & inspiring start-ups and digital business development. His specialty in data-driven digital marketing makes him broadly-known today as one of the experts in SEA digital advertising landscape.
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