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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2022-06-15

No one wants to be cheated, but when it comes to digital advertising the stakes are even higher. Not only are marketers investing a big part of their budget, time and other resources into their campaigns, but they are also responsible for sourcing new business and driving growth. So when those campaigns fall flat due to fake contacts, the impact hits even harder.

I was recently introduced to Dr. Augustine Fou of Fou Analytics, an independent ad fraud researcher. Dr. Fou works with major brands to identify display ad fraud and shares his research with the public to shine a light on this issue for marketers. 

A recent white paper Dr. Fou released highlights several key shifts in digital marketing (from direct, in-person methods to the modern digital environment) and how things may not be as they seem. The paper notes that, in theory, digital methods allow B2B marketers to target the right decision-makers, but evidence shows the segments are not performing as they should. The researchers used publisher network data to compare and reveal some surprising results regarding accuracy and ad fraud. It’s all very concerning and raises a huge question for B2B marketers: are your digital ads reaching real people, let alone the right people?

Dr. Fou estimates many digital marketing campaigns are experiencing upwards of 30-35% fake bot activity. He and his team use analytics to identify bots and “fake” results. For example, if 100% of a website’s traffic was from the same type of device using the same web browser, that would certainly raise suspicions. He outlines in more detail how analytics are used in an article he wrote for Forbes.

Another issue with fake bots is that they make it look like the reach of your campaigns is higher than it actually is. If your lead generation efforts are falling short, then fraud should be investigated as a possible reason for lower than expected performance.

So how do you fight ad fraud? Email addresses may be the unexpected answer.

On their own, an email address doesn’t mean much. It’s the person associated with the address that counts. For B2B campaigns, that’s where additional data like firmographics and technographics come into play to build a more complete profile of the contact. And when you can pull data from multiple sources—for multiple accuracy checks—there’s a better opportunity to ensure digital ads are reaching actual people--and the right ones for your campaign. It’s one of the reasons identity graphs that include online and offline contact information around multiple contact touchpoints, including email addresses, are becoming so powerful and necessary in digital marketing today.

The data OMI provides for RampID, the LiveRamp identity graph, minimizes the potential for display ad fraud. (Side note: more than 75 million of our 80 million manager-level and above contacts are matched to RampID.) Because contacts on the identity graph are matched to an email address and other data points, marketers who use RampID to build audiences for display ads have more confidence that they are reaching a real person.

While there’s no way to avoid fraudulent contacts completely with large-scale campaigns—there will always be some that slip through validity checks—campaigns that don’t reach a third of recipients shouldn’t be acceptable. Quality data providers like OMI work hard to ensure data validity and build a comprehensive database to meet client needs. The point is, ad fraud hurts everyone within B2B marketing.

I’ve learned a lot from Dr. Fou in our initial conversations and look forward to seeing how OMI can support his research. Stay tuned for more resources and information on how OMI is committed to working against ad fraud with quality contact data.

Over 75 million of OMI’s 80 million manager-level and above contacts are matched to the LiveRamp ID graph, including 65 million records from our SMB and medical market databases. Contact us today to learn more about building a custom audience.

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At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.

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