One in ten digital ads is fake

17 July 2014
NEW YORK: More than one in ten ad impressions is fraudulent, but fraud rates vary widely between verticals and reflect their media buying preferences, according to a new report.

The Q2 2014 Media Quality Report from Integral Ad Science, the digital advertising intelligence business, was based on information from the ad tech companies, exchanges and agencies it works with. It found that, overall, 11.5% of ad impressions were fraudulent.

Technology and retail companies suffered from the largest amount of fraud, 17% and 14% respectively, while consumer packaged goods (6%) and telecoms (6%) were least affected. The report suggested the difference was attributable to the ways in which the various verticals bought media.

Those with lower fraud rates were more likely to buy directly from publishers, where just 3.5% of impressions were fake. Higher fraud rates were evident on exchanges (16.5%) and ad networks (10.5%).

"Certainly the direct-response-type advertisers or verticals will look to leverage as much scale as they can," David Hahn, Integral's SVP of product, told Ad Exchanger. "That introduces some of the additional risks you might not find if you're doing smaller scale campaigns purely on publisher direct."

Other verticals afflicted with higher rates of fraud included automotive (12%), fashion (12%) and education (11.5%).

A mid-range group was comprised of entertainment (8%), pharmaceuticals (9%), insurance (10%), travel 11% and finance (11%). Others at the lower end included quick-service restaurants (6.5%) and energy (7.5%).

As well as fraud, Integral looked at related issues such as viewability and brand safety. Once again buying direct from publishers yielded the best results: more than half (55.5%) of inventory purchased this way was regarded as viewable, while ad networks (45.9%) and exchanges (45.3%) performed less well.

Similarly, buying direct was more likely to produce brand-safe inventory. Just 6.2% of inventory here was classified with a moderate to very high risk, far less than exchanges (9.6%) and ad networks (10.1%).

The report had found no significant change in brand safety levels, but said risky impressions most often landed on adult content (41.8%), reflecting the sheer volume of such material on the web and the traffic it receives.

Sites about drugs (17%), hate speech (13.9%) and illegal downloads (13.4%) were also flagged as high-risk locations.

Data sourced from Integral Ad Science, Ad Exchanger; additional content by Warc staff
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