Bot fraud will fall to $5.8bn in 2019, when more attempts at this kind of deception will fail than succeed for the first time, according to a study from trade body the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and cybersecurity firm White Ops.

The “2018–2019 Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising” forecast that bot fraud levels should decline by 11% this year compared with the last such ANA/White Ops study in 2017 – during which period digital adspend has climbed by 25.4%.

Among the in-depth insights was that efforts at fraud amount to 20–35% of ad impressions across the year, but the majority of these attempts are either invalidated at source, before purchase, or see post-campaign “claw backs” of adspend. (For more, read WARC's in-depth article: ANA/White Ops study: Digital bot fraud declines – but room for progress remains.)

Without these measures, the ANA/White Ops study estimated, losses to bot fraud would have reached $14bn annually, over double the expected total for 2019.

“The decrease in ad fraud suggests that the war on fraud is winnable,” Bob Liodice, the ANA’s CEO, said. “Less fraud means more resources can be devoted to brand and business building.”

Breaking out its granular findings, the report stated that 8% of display ad impressions are fraudulent, a drop of one percentage point from 2017. Video ads saw a decline from 22% to 14% in the same period.

This data was drawn from 2,400 campaigns run by 50 leading marketers in the ANA’s membership, ranging from automaker Ford to brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, financial services giant Bank of America and soft drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola.

One source of progress was ads.txt, an initiative from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), another trade body, that lets publishers create lists of authorized media sellers, meaning brands can be sure the inventory they buy is authentic.

Additionally, the report said that industry-wide endeavors to tackle fraud have made it more difficult, and expensive, to buy sophisticated, convincing bot traffic than in the past.

More programmatic transactions now occur via platforms that have built-in fraud prevention tools and solutions, too, and the vast majority of brands in the study are also using third-party experts to monitor for nefarious activity.

Sourced from WARC