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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2023-12-06

If you’ve been following this blog this year, then you know ad fraud is a topic we've delved into extensively. It’s been a focus for our team this year as we work to raise awareness and share solutions to this threat that marketers can’t afford to ignore. But here's the stark truth: ad fraud isn't a new phenomenon, it's actually an issue that's been going on for years. A Forrester report from 2014 calls it digital advertising’s “dirty little secret,” saying there was a significant level of ad fraud even then, nearly ten years ago.

A recent MarTech Series article notes that the first incident of digital ad fraud was reported in 2001. It's a testament to the unfortunate truth that where commerce and opportunity thrive, there will always be individuals looking to exploit for their own gain.

What's shifted dramatically, however, is the scale and reach of ad fraud. As the world has become more digital and cybercrime has skyrocketed, ad fraud has become more pervasive and costly—and even more challenging to overcome.

The Who, How & Why of Ad Fraud

In talking with clients and others in the industry about this issue, one of the most common questions I hear is ‘who is behind ad fraud?’ Bad actors, cyber criminals, and other opportunists all looking to capitalize on the situation are responsible. These individuals or groups create bots to inflate click and impression rates, spoof website names to attract advertising that ultimately ends up on undesirable websites, and stack ads rendering them useless, among other fraudulent tactics. The result rips off advertisers and damages the reputation for all digital advertising. Their motivation is simple: money. They pull in advertising revenue, while advertisers from enterprise and small businesses alike waste money on ads that don’t even reach real people.

What Is the Solution?

So, how do marketing leaders respond? The solution doesn't lie in individual silos but in collective efforts. We need greater transparency in the digital advertising landscape—collaboration, information sharing, and an honest, accurate measurement of where ad dollars are being spent and who is being reached.

I’ve shared practical solutions in a recent Forbes article on why ad fraud is the biggest threat to the industry, as well as this blog on navigating ad fraud. In short: transparency and innovative solutions—like deterministic intent data, people-based solutions, multi-sourced data and clear media activation strategies—must take center stage.

All marketers need to do their part: it starts with acknowledging the problem and putting the energy and effort toward addressing it. Reach out to our team today to discuss how to take the first steps and apply our ad fraud prevention strategies to your business.

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