Mobile ad fraud has been a major concern for advertisers and marketers, as it continues to eat up their budgets, reduces campaign effectiveness and making the entire exercise an opaque one. Lack of a single standard for fraud detection or prevention also wreaks havoc on the businesses’ ability to avoid such incidents. Vasuta Agarwal, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, InMobi tells why a holistic approach is required to fight this growing ad fraud menace.
V&D: Besides the lack of penalties and transparency in industry regulations, what are some of the other reasons behind the rising ad fraud scenario in India?
Ad fraud is a part of a larger global problem which players across the advertising chain, from the advertiser to tech platforms to the publisher, are trying to solve. The rise of ad fraud can be attributed to several factors – the steady shift of advertising dollars to digital, increasing pressure to drive growth in highly competitive markets especially in the Asia Pacific focused on high Return On Advertising Spend (RoAS) and the fast-paced nature of technological advancement. When it comes to solving these, advertisers need to focus on quality growth and disincentivize fraudsters in the ecosystem. For instance, platforms like InMobi partner with advertisers only on clean installs.
Also, there is no single standard for fraud detection or prevention today and this provides fraudsters with the opportunity to exploit chinks in the third-party measurement armors. In the long term, Transparency and Investment in Advanced Fraud Prevention will be the change-drivers by providing visibility into the entire supply chain and helping advertisers stay ahead of fraudsters.
V&D: Fraudsters are pivoting on newer attack techniques. But are advertisers willing to spend on detection and prevention tools?
In our experience, yes, advertisers are willing to spend. There’s a reason why there is a robust market for third-party verification, measurement, and attribution solutions, with each player deep-diving into a nuanced solution on different aspects of ad fraud such as viewability, invalid traffic, audience verification. In fact, most advertisers are unwilling to work with partners if a base level of third-party verification is not set in place. Having said that, advertisers should lead the charge in ensuring that their partners are quick to adopt the latest tech standards released by industry bodies, thus helping holistically fight frauds. We have partnered with all the leading third-party measurement solutions across the globe to provide advertisers transparency, rich feedback and control.
V&D: How effective are technologies like AI/ML, Blockchain in fighting the ad fraud menace?
We see a lot of potential for AI and ML in fighting fraud. While slightly distant, the right ML algorithms powering fraud detection platforms/ tools can sniff out potential fraud schemes before they even arise. AI algorithms can also help spot anomalous behavior before humans can, which ensures that fraud schemes, when they do pop up, are shut down more quickly.
V&D: Tools and techniques of ad fraud are evolving very fast, while the fraud prevention solutions providers are busy playing catch-up. Could you suggest some best practices for the advertisers to protect themselves?
There are several steps that advertisers can take. First and foremost, advertisers should make sure they aim for quality growth and only work with reputable partners that have a strong track record of being trustworthy and transparent. Also, advertisers should invest in the proper measurement, attribution and tracking, so they can have proper oversight over all their efforts. Advertisers need to invest in advanced ML/ AI tools or in partners/ platforms who invest in these capabilities and checks. It is also critical that both advertisers and their partners are raising their voice in the industry to shape the trust and transparency conversation from time to time.
Trust and Transparency is a mandate for the entire advertising ecosystem. But, it’s important to note that we are making progress. App-ads.txt and sellers.json, two IAB Tech Lab initiatives that InMobi helped spearhead, have gone a long way towards adding greater transparency to the programmatic mobile advertising space; which is where the future of media is.