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New guidelines tackle digital ad fraud

News, 26 October 2015

LONDON: In its latest bid to tackle online ad fraud, the UK's independent ad trading watchdog has published fresh guidance for industry practitioners to help reduce their risk of exposure.

The UK's Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) has identified 16 different malicious and non-malicious sources of non-human traffic that can affect digital ad traffic.

Its report, entitled "UK Traffic Taxonomy for Digital Display Advertising", is an update to guidance published in June that outlined an initial set of best practices.

The joint body, which includes leading organisations such as the Internet Advertising Bureau UK and the Association of Online Publishers, said these 16 potentially fraudulent practices did not constitute "an exhaustive list", but marked an important step in reducing the risk of online ad fraud.

Examples of fraudulent or potentially fraudulent activities identified in the report include hijacked devices that make ad requests without the user's consent as well as ad tag hijacking, whereby ad tags are taken from a publisher's site without its knowledge.

Less obvious activities include "cookie-stuffing", or the process by which a client is provided with cookies from other domains as if the user had visited them.

By seeking to set a standard with the guidelines, JICWEBS said it would continue to update the industry while also reviewing companies that claim to apply industry-agreed best practices.

Those that do so will receive the JICWEBS seal that confirms their processes further reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served.

Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, the voice of British advertisers, said: "ISBA and its members Shell, Santander, and Unilever have worked with industry partners on the JICWEBS Cross-industry Anti-Fraud Working Group to reduce the risk of exposure to ad fraud.

"Advertising is an ever-evolving ecosystem especially within the digital field. The fraudsters are also looking to be a step ahead of the game so this guidance will be updated as and when necessary.

"The objective is to restore the trust which advertisers expect across all the media channels they use, notably online, and thus restore their confidence in the channel."

Data sourced from JICWEBS; additional content by Warc staff