The digital marketing challenger agency, QueryClick, has released its Programmatic Ad Fraud Transparency report, revealing a crisis of confidence in the digital advertising industry.
The survey of 150 Heads of Marketing, eCommerce and Digital at major UK brands with a revenue of over £100million, revealed that while the rise of digital advertising has brought unparalleled opportunities, including highly tailored and target advertising through programmatic campaigns, it is also wide open to abuse.
The findings reveal that only 40% of major advertisers are confident that more than half of their adverts placed online in the last 12 months have been seen by people, with just 7% saying they thought the proportion viewed by humans rather than bots was 80% or more.
41% of advertisers admitted they have lost trust in programmatic advertising as a result of fraud, but despite this concern, 70% of marketers said they are planning to maintain or increase their programmatic spend in the next 12 months.
More than one in five (22%) brands said they are planning to decrease their programmatic ad spend over the next 12 months because of concerns over costs or performance. When probed about why they were planning to reduce their spend, close to half (46%) complained that there is a lack of alternative technology options (alternative ad buying platforms or DSPs) in the market, 41% blamed a lack of transparency over how much the programmatic ads costs, and 39% said that it is due to a lack of transparency over which sites the ads will be placed.
This lack of transparency has resulted in reports of big name brands appearing next to highly offensive content. The report found that 80% of online ad buyers are worried that their current programmatic processes could lead to their adverts appearing on web pages related to terror activities.
The survey findings follow the release of a report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) which found that 85% of marketers outsourced their programmatic buying and planning this year, with 40% saying this was because they did not feel comfortable with the level of transparency they received from outsourced partners.
- Managing Director, QueryClick, Chris Liversidge, commented:
Despite it being on the rise, programmatic advertising is wide open to abuse. Recent studies have put the cost of digital advertising fraud as high as $31 billion. That makes digital ad fraud not just more costly than any form of cybercrime, but more costly than offline crimes such as counterfeit goods and payment card fraud.
Publishers are on the front line in the battle against advertising fraud. They have a duty to educate both brands and agencies on programmatic processes to ensure transparency. However, brands can take steps to protect themselves too. First, where possible, they should separate their programmatic campaigns so they are given the consideration – and performance measures – their growing size warrants. Secondly, they should unbundle their agency relationship from the programmatic platform, to enable them to seek out independent providers that offer true transparency and protection from the risks of current programmatic campaigns.
In doing so they will not only significantly reduce their exposure to waste and damage to their band reputation from fraud, but also start to see programmatic begin to deliver on its promise.