AdMaster Anti-Fraud White Paper 30% of The Traffic Was Invalid

2017-03-20

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In honor of World Consumer Rights Day 2017, AdMaster, the leading marketing data technology firm in China, released its second Anti Advertising Fraud White Paper unveiling the invalid traffic situation of the digital advertising industry in China.

In January 2017, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble delivered the so-called “biggest marketing speech for 20 years” at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting and claimed the media supply chain as "murky at best, fraudulent at worst". As the leading advertising measurement and data analytics provider in China, AdMaster has been watching the industry as a “referee” for the past 10 years. We unveiled the genuine advertising performance to advertisers and publishers through a unified standard across campaigns and advanced technologies. We also reported the invalid traffic with dignity.

June 2016, AdMaster launched its first “Anti-Fraud Advertising White Paper”. It revealed the phenomenon in the first 5 months of 2016 in the context of non-human traffic and invalid traffic of video ads. This second issue of the White Paper (March 2017) covered advertising traffic data of over 1,000 advertisers in China in the whole year of 2016. Our goal is to share with the industry the situation objectively through data, as well as with the vision of building an accountable digital advertising market with joint efforts the industry practitioners in a transparent and safe environment.

We have invested heavily to protect the marketers for the best advertising effect. We innovated different anti-fraud technologies such as BlueAir (traffic filtering), VOA (verification of targeted advertising), SNAP (ad verification) to tackle the fraudulent situations comprehensively from different angles and diagnosis levels. In particular to programmatic buying, our pre-bid solution, i.e. anti-fraud technology before advertising is served, helps to avoid advertising placement on invalid traffic based on historical data.

This white paper covers ad fraud challenges caused by: invalid traffic and ad viewability on PC, Mobile, as well as Connected TV (CTV) platforms.

Findings:

-  In 2016, invalid traffic accounted for 30.2% of total advertising traffic


-  Invalid traffic worsened when approaching year end (a 13% increase from 28% in the first half to 31.7% in the second half)


-  Vertical platforms suffered the most from invalid traffic


-  Women, Mom & Baby and Auto vertical publishers were the top platforms with the most invalid traffic, as they were in the first half of 2016


-  Invalid traffic on PC as in the past was much higher than those on mobile device


-  AdMaster found there were 2 challenges on CTV's advertising traffic:

Measurement technology on CTV is still in its preliminary stage, which may cause more fraudulent happenings.

1)The emergence of new ad formats and channels, like CTV, are today's new breeding grounds for ad frauds. Given CTV ad measurement is still in its preliminary stage, there is incomplete data for comprehensive measurement. For example, some platforms only accept S2S (server-to-server) as the only data transfer protocol, which allows zero cost of generating fraudulent ad. The common invalid traffic is generated directly from server.

2) Other forms of CTV ad fraud may include abnormal frequency distribution, as well as boosting CTV traffic with PC and Mobile data. The situation will be improved when the industry becomes more open for independent traffic audit and advanced measurement technologies, e.g. the SDK approach as we adopted for mobile devices a few years ago.  

AdMaster identifies abnormal and invalid traffic in the scopes of CTV IP, geographic location, frequency and user agent through our unique anti-fraud measurement technology, BlueAir. We have thus built a black list of devices, which have been demonstrating illogical behavior patterns. On the contrary, we also have developed a white list together with leading manufacturers e.g. Hisense, Konka, Skyworth and Huan.tv to further enhance our capability to fight against fraudulent traffic.

According to AdMaster's measurement data on CTV invalid traffic with C2S (client-to-server) API only in 2016, we found:

1)Invalid traffic accounted for 6.5% out of total traffic. On video platforms, invalid traffic only shares 3%, 12% of the total advertised on hardware was regarded as invalid.

2)Auto and finance advertisers suffer the most from ad frauds which we believe have a direct relationship with their preference on ad formats and channels (publishers).

By now, Facebook and Google have agreed to be more open to Media Rating Council audits in the global market, especially regarding ad viewability. Though “walled-garden” sites still exit and while industry practitioners in China seldom discussed about ad viewability nor measurement related matters two years ago, today we strongly believe the market is pursuing the best-in-class measurement practice.

Anti-Fraud drew attentions in 2016 in China. Apart from advancing our anti-fraud advertising technologies, AdMaster has been working closely with industry associations and corporations, such as the Digital Marketing Committee of China Advertising Association of Commerce, China Computer Federation, China Mobile Marketing Association (MMA China), iPinYou, RTB China to fight against invalid traffic. With the standard guidelines from CMAC (China Media Assessment Council), we are dedicated to identify intentional ad frauds (volume, placement and frequency), unintentional robot traffic (e.g. known spiders) and other possible invalid traffic. Our vision is to make sure advertisers' investment are safe guarded.

Vincent Yan, Founder & CEO of AdMaster, comments,“while we are striving to maintain the continuous advancement of our technologies, it is the most critical for everyone in the ecosystem to work together against fraud, including publishers, DSP, Trading Desks, Ad Networks and any other third parties. We need to be transparent and accountable in handling invalid traffic. We should follow the same standardized winning practice, together with the advanced technology, to work against fraudulent ad traffic and any other malpractices, which affect the healthy development of the industry. AdMaster encourages the whole industry to collaborate and joint effort with industry organizations, e.g. CMAC (China Media Assessment Council) to co-establish measurement standards for the sustainable and prosperous development of digital advertising ecosystem.”

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