tribeOS recently conducted an in-depth research study on the topic on ad fraud. Performing a “temperature check” on what digital marketers know and don’t know about ad fraud is critical since a whopping $51 million daily is lost and literally stolen from digital advertisers.

The ad fraud awareness research study was conducted with over 270 marketers in the US and Canada. Because of the wealth of the data and the numerous insights gained, this is the second of two articles referencing the recently completed research study.

Nick Drew of Fuse Insights, the research firm that conducted the ad fraud research study for tribeOS, made this observation after examining all the results, “There’s clearly a big opportunity here to educate marketers on all facets of ad fraud especially in diagnosing how it occurs, what each party can do to prevent it and how to best measure the real monies lost.”

To discover some preliminary findings on how aware respondents are of ad fraud and on what platforms, you can access Part 1 here.

Now, let’s examine the disconnects on a deeper level …

Disconnect #1: The relevancy gap

While respondents are aware of ad fraud on a generic level, how it affects their ad programs directly remains a bit of a mystery.

For example, more than half said ad fraud is one of, if not the, biggest problems facing the online ad industry. However, that still leaves a third of respondents who don’t recognize this as an important issue, and 1 in 10 who really aren’t sure at all.

In addition, of those marketers saying it’s one of the, biggest problem(s) facing digital advertisers, only 13% described ad fraud in familiar terms used by those more savvy on the issue.

Disconnect #2: Yes, ad fraud is a problem, but NOT sure it affects their own ad programs

Here is where you see the relevancy gap clearly take hold. Consider these results as confirmation of that fact:

  • 6 out of 10 believe that their own digital campaigns aren’t subject to ad fraud
  • Only 1 in 5 concede that they may been impacted by ad fraud
  • 17% at least say they genuinely don’t know

Perhaps more alarming, is that 3/4 of those who said they haven’t experienced ad fraud actually work for digital marketing firms that run social ads! This includes a third that have run online video ads, and a little over 1 in 4 that have run display ads.

Disconnect #3: Startling global ad fraud numbers often fall on deaf ears

Because of disconnects #1 and #2, few respondents fully comprehend the financial impact of ad fraud at a global level. In essence, respondents see a number like $5 billon lost annually to ad fraud as “someone else’s problem” and not theirs.

This data point confirms that previous insight: 1/3 of respondents who have heard of ad fraud said they just have no idea how much is lost to it each year in dollars; and a similar number don’t know any figure (such as industry estimates of 30-50%) as a proportion of total ad spend either.

Who’s ultimately responsible for ad fraud?

Respondents felt social ads were more vulnerable to ad fraud than display ads. So, digital marketers know ad fraud exists but aren’t sure how relevant is to their campaigns. Now, how do they feel about who’s ultimately responsible?

Answers to that question carry a two-fold importance: first where the problem lies and second who’s responsible for fixing it.

  • 8 out of 10 believe that publishers are responsible for making all ads visible and served to people – and only 7% disagreed
  • 6 out of 10 agree that “only buying from well-known publishers” is a possible solution.
  • 6 out of 10 feel the marketer should take at least some responsibility for preventing ad fraud; but more say the publishers/ networks/ agencies must prevent it
  • Only a quarter realise that checking standard campaign data is not a solution for ad fraud

Looking at this section of the study results reveals a contradiction of sorts: while 6 out of 10 stated the marketer bears some responsibility in preventing ad fraud there is still the apparent disconnect about their own liability, exposure to and role in preventing ad fraud.

A final takeaway: the complexity of the ad buying process complicates matters

By the end of the survey, many respondents had a better understanding – or at least stronger opinions – of ad fraud.

In fact, 6 out of 10 feel that ad fraud is an inevitable outcome because of the complexity of the digital ad landscape. And as a reminder, more than half concede that marketers should take some responsibility for where their ads run online.

Overall, the insights gained on this research study show more education and awareness are needed across the board for  in-house marketers as well ad digital ad firms and marketing consultants as well.

Note: the full 36-page Ad Fraud Awareness research report is available for download here.

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