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Step up and verify!

Fraudulent online traffic is rising, with millions of digital advertising pounds wasted every year. But this doesn’t mean that digital advertising has stopped growing. In fact, IAB UK and PwC’s latest report reveals the opposite as digital ad spend in the UK hit £3.46bn in the first half of 2014.

Digital advertising offers brands a huge opportunity to reach relevant audiences at scale. However, a growing industry means a growth in rogue traders and bot fraud. Solve Media suggest more than 25 per cent of bot fraud in display advertising, causing difficulty when measuring ROI of campaigns. And according to research from Project Sunblock, 78 per cent of UK advertisers have no insight into how many of their ad impressions could be fraudulent. The industry needs to eliminate rogue traders by aligning on verification and viewability to make sure brands see true ROI.

Validation is needed

Bots can mimic human behaviour, making them difficult to detect. The activity generated by these bots convolutes the engagement metrics driven by real, human traffic, decreasing the value of legitimate publisher inventory. Therefore, advertisers end up paying a portion of their campaign budget to fraudsters who deliver ad impressions that never reach human eyes.

To work, ads have to be validated by a real human audience. Action to improve viewability must happen to ensure brands can really reap the benefits.  According to comScore, Kelloggs saw a 75 per cent lift in sales by increasing viewability rates by 40 per cent. My advice to brands is to take a look at dwell time, shares and completion rates, which will tell you a lot more about the success of an ad than simple views.

Brands are already looking beyond the click. Sky, O2 and Batiste are among those observing the average viewing time of their ads, as well as the level of interaction.  With different measuring methods across platforms, there is now a real call to action for the industry to standardise viewability and verification.

Working with a trusted partner 

Industry leaders need to proactively seek methods for verification and viewability so that brands get true value for money. There is an option to team up with the likes of Integral Ad Science who has partnered with Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings™ to power viewability measurement in markets around the globe to deliver high-quality, third-party, multi-screen metrics that enable fair play in advertising. In addition, companies such as Forensiq provide the tools to protect brands against high-risk traffic sources in order to eliminate fraud. We’re also seeing well-known publishers including the Guardian, Telegraph and Dennis are working with Omnicom to drill into cross-device, digital ad effectiveness in a major project led by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).

The need for verification and pushing the industry to align 

Brands are already making it clear that they want a better idea of what online success really looks like. With rapid growth and developments in online advertising, the industry is having to deal with resulting issues such as fraud, but we need to come together as an industry to alleviate this to move forward. Trust between brands, viewers and providers must be developed to ensure viewability figures are accurate and measurement is standardised. Consistency is key here and until viewability and verification receive an industry standard, brands will not be able to see the true ROI of their campaigns.