Everyone in the digital marketing industry knows that click fraud is a major problem, but last November in Australia it really began to draw the attention of major brands as well as the public in general. In what was termed “Black Thursday” in the industry, major brands such as Ford, Hyundai, ING Direct and Coles were all victims of what was then a new method of click fraud. Their ads were displayed on the ‘highly illegal site,’ WatchAmericanDad.tv.
The site used URL masking to set itself up as a legitimate site. They would then access ad inventory from dozens of networks to serve ads from major corporations. These ads pay quite well, so this is a type of click fraud that was very attractive to the fraudsters. This event really shined a light on just how rampant click fraud has become, and caused some brands to consider backing out their digital advertising investment.
In response to this outcry from brands and the bad press that digital marketers are getting, (and the fact that brands are starting to become hesitant about investing into digital marketing, of course) major players in the digital marketing industry knew that action had to be taken.
Rather than attempting to fight this problem alone, many of the top ad networks, technology platforms, brand safety companies and others have agreed to get together to create a ‘click fraud council’ so they can pool resources and intelligence to help take the fight to the scammers.
The group is set to meet quarterly and have a ‘round-table’ style discussion. It is not lead by any one company or individual, meaning all the people are coming together to help each other equally. While the quarterly meetings will be a major source of information sharing and idea generating, they will also be sharing data in an almost real time basis when there are new threats concerning click-fraud. This will allow the industry to react to major problems much more quickly, and help minimize the impact of the scammers.
The council members are:
- Sarah Hassanin from Videology
- Ross McNab from Kinected
- James Collier from Bohemia
- David Osborn from Appnexus
- MinSun Collier from Ogilvy
- Peter Ostick from TVN
- Anya Collingwood from Match Media
- Matthieu Von der Muhll from SpotXchange
- Kenny Griffiths from Voltmedia
- Lynn Chealander from Vivaki
- Carlo Bertozzi from Longtail
- Cindy Deng from Turn
- Jo Gaines from Brandscreen
- Stephen Hunt from TubeMogul
- Rhys Williams from Google
- Mitch Waters from Adap.tv
- Phil Duffield from Adap.tv
- Jonathan Smith from Adconion
- Sebastian Henrici from Google
- Phil Cowlishaw from Ikon
- Natalie DeSouza from Cadreon
- Marc Lomas from Cadreon
- Carolyn Bollaci from Sizmek
- Gus Soewono from Sizmek
The next meeting of this group is scheduled to take place in April at Google’s headquarters. They hope to have outlined a specific set of ‘gold standard’ safety measures that can be used in the ad industry, and talk about the balance between using technology to fight fraud, and relying on actual humans monitoring systems. Timothy Whitfield commented that, “As the technology to commit fraud evolves, so does the technology to catch it. If they are outpacing us, we have got problems. If we outpace them we can minimize it.”
Everyone in the marketing and advertisement industry will want to keep a close eye on this council to see what steps they will be taking.