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Ad fraud will be beaten by 2020

Whenever an industry grows and begins making money, you can be sure fraudsters won’t be far behind. Our industry — online advertising — is no different. In fact, it is particularly rich pickings for scammers given that digital advertising spend is about to overtake TV for the first time ever.

How big is the problem? In the US alone, it was estimated last year that advertisers lost $7.2 billion to “bot fraud.”

When figures like that are thrown around, the problem can seem huge and almost unsolvable. Except it’s not. Behind the statistics, a different picture is emerging. Things are improving and the industry is beginning to get a grip on things.

I’ll stick my neck out now and make a prediction. By the end of 2020, ad fraud as we know it will be a thing of the past. Why am I so confident in my prediction? My reasons are threefold.

Let’s go through each of these in turn:

1. Brands are making themselves heard

One very prominent example is P&G.

In January, chief brand officer Marc Pritchard made a speech in which he claimed: “We serve ads to consumers through a non-transparent media supply chain with spotty compliance to common standards, unreliable measurement, hidden rebates and new inventions like bot and methbot fraud.”

This was followed up in August with the announcement that P&G would cut its online advertising budget. However, crucially P&G said the move was temporary. And so while it represents a reduction in budget for one of the world’s largest advertisers, in a way it’s actually good news. It’s a wake-up call that pushes the industry toward dealing with this issue once and for all instead of making do and sweeping it under the carpet.

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