Ad fraud is not something new to our industry. Fraud challenges existed a decade ago in the digital space and still do in 2020. The risk of fraud has only increased, especially in times when digital consumption is higher.
However, now there are tools and technologies that are trying to help brands minimise spend on brand safety, check ad fraud and help to increase their viewability on digital.
Discussing about ad fraud in programmatic advertising, Bharat Khatri, Country Lead, Xaxis India, explained how the agency ensures brand safety, ad fraud and viewability (BAV) framework for brands.
Explaining how brand suitability and context comes into consideration and is of utmost importance while placing an ad, he said how brands can use technology tools by just paying a small marginal fee and increase the BAV factor of their overall digital spends.
Khatri told BestMediaInfo.com that FMCG is the biggest driver in terms of the kinds of brands that are quickly adopting measures for brand safety, ad fraud and viewability. Also within the FMCG, most of the categories have already built their BAV framework on a different brand-to-brand level.
Talking about major ad placements and spending in the current environment, he said, “On TV, it is GECs and news content and on digital, it is more on OTT as well as audio, digital wallets and grocery apps. All these apps are majorly supporting some or the other form of advertising and brands now have good mix of digital to play around the budget depending on their objectives and KPIs.”
He said if a brand has top funnel objectives such as branding, they are heavily investing on video, OTTs and audio. If the brand has a mix of top funnel branding and engagement and consideration, they are looking at news platforms to drive traffic, clicks, and visits. And if it is clearly around lower funnel for the performance and conversion, they are mainly focusing on the last-mile attributing, which is search as well as e-com partners.
It is often pointed out that digital can bring in reach and frequency in terms of quantity but not quality. On this, Khatri said one can get the best quality audiences on digital as well but with more addressability and measurability.
Also, on TV, ad placements and the context to it can't be measured and optimised in real time. But in digital, one has all the levers available. Thus, ensuring in which context and on which content an ad should serve. And that's the power digital brings in terms of brand safety and brand suitability.
The agency’s pre-bid technology helps to analyse all the factors before placing an ad. The technology tells whether the impression is human or non-human, the context on which the ad is going to serve while also telling how much percentage the ad will be viewable. Similarly, once the ad is served, post-bid technology helps analyse the campaign performance and accordingly one can block certain inventory while also blocking unsafe content.
Khatri said, “In pre-bid, we can target only high quality viewable impression, which means if I activate pre-bid technology on one of my partners, it will definitely bring lot of high quality viewable impressions. And in the post, we are manually blocking all URLs bringing fraud to me.”
At a pre-bid level, one can only buy filtered impressions.
Explaining how ad fraud is the invalid traffic that can be human or non-human, he said Xaxis helps brands to ensure that whatever ads one is buying has the relevant audiences at the right time.
A lot of time our browsers start installing certain add-ons that start running ads on the browser without our intention, which create a lot of fraudulent traffic over the internet. Also, many a time, bots follow a certain macro and for an advertiser, it looks like a human
saw the ad, acting as a conversion too. Plus, a lot of people start running ads on unknown inventory without even knowing what is the domain name and whether the domain is brand safe or not.
For domain spoofing, in particular, Bharat recommended to have and run the concept ‘ads.txt’, which the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a global body that controls the overall digital fraternity ecosystem and BAV, has put in place.
As viewable ad impressions are a measurement of true reach, he explained how optimising viewability inventory allows the agency to sieve out low quality sellers.
The general misconception about digital advertising is that display ads on digital have a benchmark of viewability, which is around about 60-65%. In India, which means if you're serving hundred impressions on display ads, the banner ads, only 60- 65% of the ads are being seen by a human. The rest of the ads are never been watched by a human because the ad was running either in the second scroll, or the third scroll or the page was loaded but the ad was not loaded. Which makes viewability another important aspect for the brands to consider who spend tonnes of money on eyeballs.
The Media Rating Council (MRC), the global body that tries to continue to put a lot of guidelines policies around the viewability aspects on digital, says if you are running a display ad, at least 50% of the pixels should be loaded to get it counted.
However, Khatri said how Group M has put a higher benchmark on the viewability standards because according to it, an ad should be loaded hundred per cent and so the entire video with the sound on should be watched to count as an impression.
The agency works with partners Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify, Moat and Grapeshot, which are certified by MRC for BAV.