AI is the solution for better brand safety, not the problem

While the use of AI to solve ad fraud is polarising, I believe it is the core of advertising technology.

It’s an unfortunate truth… fraud is eating away at most ad budgets.

What’s worse, fraudsters continually find new ways to hide behind technology and turn smart media tactics into wasteful spend. They generate fake ad impressions, clicks and conversions, simulate seemingly desirable traffic, hide your ads, place them on undesirable sites, hijack mobile devices, simulate app installs, and more.

Even established publishers such as the Financial Times are not immune to fraud. The publisher recently conducted investigations into its own site and the scale of fraud it uncovered was the equivalent of a month’s supply of bona fide video inventory fraudulently appearing in a single day. And it does not seem like the issue is going to stop.

A recent worldwide study published by Juniper Research found that advertisers will lose an estimated $19bn (£14.2bn) to fraudulent activities next year — that’s equivalent to about $51m per day. This annual revenue loss, representing advertising on online and mobile devices, will continue to rise, reaching $44bn  by 2022. So how do advertisers look to curb this? 

The words artificial intelligence when used in the context of ad fraud has long had a polarising effect on the industry. Some believe that AI is starting to be useful but remains confined to niche areas in the advertising sector. I for one, believe that AI is at the core of advertising technology. It's already being used by advertisers to do anything from creating chatbots to crunching massive data sets to drive hyper-targeted media buys and brands and businesses must understand this in order to reap its full benefits.

Here are some steps the industry can take to help solve the issue of ad fraud and get the most out of AI:

Find the right partners

When investing in brand safety, brand agencies and publishers should think about who they are trading with. As a marketer, you need to clearly find out how much the agency has invested in preventing ad fraud. They should also be looking at how much fraud it catches and how easily they translate the data. Marketers should be wary of trading in the polluted pool and protect themselves but also make sure that they are advertising in places that are premium.

P&G is a prime example of a company that is calling out companies not trading ethically. Companies should be pushing everyone that trades with them to show true processes and tools that they have in place to ensure transparency and prevent fraud. 

Bottom line – do not be the headline – the damage is done if you appear next to inappropriate content, it has a huge impact much like recent news on Fetch.

Pick the right tools and test them

Brands must always look at which tools are right for them against their objective. Testing is key to finding out which one captures the most amount of fraud. For AI products to work effectively, they often need to be tailored to the client’s specific use. Do you need to tailor the terms and conditions in place? Are there processes in place? How about Jicwebs? Always be sure to ask the right questions in order to get the most out of you’re AI solution.

View the whole customer journey  

Make sure you’re able to see the whole consumer journey, look at every platform and the whole process holistically. In doing so, you will be able to track your spend and way up the differences, build a clever picture that allows you to see everything in one go and compare each part, making it all transparent.

One of the issues that brands need to be aware of is that attribution can be significantly skewed. If there is a lack of transparency, you are skewing the results. Transparency is key in the value you attribute and the results. There are now options for inbuilt ad fraud prevention, so every trade that you are monitoring, you will be able to see the real results similar to the FT.

There is still a lot to consider when thinking about ad fraud but one thing for certain is that technology has a part to play, not in causing the problem but in preventing it – it’s just a case of ensuring the correct tools are used in the correct way. It’s a new area, and the winners are the ones with proven results.

Mark Wrighton is vice-president, EMEA at Impact Radius

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