“Escalating tensions between the West and Russia are conjuring up fears of a renewed cold war and arms race, but in my industry – digital advertising – we’re already deep in the throes of an arms race that has been a reality for years,” writes Anthony Rushton, CEO of ad fraud detection firm Telemetry, “The scene painted daily in the press is one of advertising heroes fighting evil bots that are designed to dupe the system and siphon ad dollars when a banner or video shows up on some website far out in the wastelands of the Internet.”
A lollapalooza of outrage for no real purpose? Maybe so, Rushton says.
“It is an exciting theme as we all read about foreign nationals hacking from secret locations, but that’s not what is really happening in digital advertising,” Rushton argues in a recent Wall Street Journal CMO column. “In fact, the effect of bots is embellished – and dwelling on them is a big mistake.”
Rushton says yes, there are bots, and yes, they’re a pain in the byte.
“Fortunately the good guys have bots too – crime fighting programs to uncover nefarious lines of code, identify new schemes quickly and shut them down,” he notes.
And that, Rushton believes, is the real problem with bots: they capture too much attention and “have become a distraction from the real issue digital advertising faces: sophisticated fraud – fraud perpetrated by talented individuals who know how the advertising industry operates and are experts in exploiting its weaknesses.”
What to do?
“As an industry we need to recognize the challenge posed by sophisticated criminals, and the limitations of a system that has not been constructed to stop them,” he advises.
Rushton says that there are three components to more effectively battling online ad fraud.
“First, let’s build a system of checks and balances that can look beyond simple CPM values and actually evaluate quality,” Rushton suggests. “Second, we must get better at fighting different types of fraud with different approaches, letting simple bot detection kill simple bots, and using a more flexible and articulate process to uncover sophisticated fraud. Finally, let’s challenge the ad agencies, networks and exchanges to build technology and expertise to close the loopholes and stop fraud once it is identified.”
There’s much more to read. Check out the rest here.