Anti Ad-Fraud


It is our belief that the digital advertising ecosystem should take responsibility – and be accountable – for minimising ad-fraud across our trading relationships. Ad fraud threatens human safety as well as brand safety.

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The Leadership Position

The future lies in the widespread adoption of certified media buys, aligned to advertiser values and human rights. Digital advertising should be viewable by humans, served in an appropriate editorial environment, and respectful of user experience and privacy. The industry should take the strongest possible measures to ensure this is the case, including detecting and tackling new areas of fraud.

The Commercial Imperative

Advertising fraud makes advertising less effective and funds organised crime, online hate speech and disinformation.

We advise four fundamental steps for an organisation to minimise their risk, which should be included in all agency briefs.

1. Embed Anti-Fraud Initiatives

  • All should educate themselves on traffic fraud and the risks it poses to business.
  • Adopt policies and strategies to identify fraud and mitigate its impact.
  • Advertisers should set clear objectives for media campaigns that focus on the measurement of real ROI, which is difficult for fraudsters to falsify.
  • Practice safe sourcing, and work only with business partners who have earned your trust.
  • Filter traffic through technology vendors that prioritise fraud detection, ideally those vendors certified via TAG and Media Rating Council (MRC).

2. Use Anti-Fraud Vendors

  • Ensure DSP, SSP and Ad Verification partners are accredited by TAG’s Certified Against Fraud programme or are using industry best practice verification such as IAB Gold Standard.
  • Track ad fraud through independent media auditing, and review performance quarterly – using analytics to detect and monitor fraud in real-time, where possible.
  • Where possible, monitor 100% of supply. Do not rely on sampling, nor only measure assumed high-risk partners.
  • Work with DSP, SSP and Ad Verification partners to filter out fraud at pre-bid level.
  • Use inclusion and exclusion lists to limit exposure to fraudulent domains and monitor post-bid ad fraud to identify areas to optimise and influence best practice.
  • Work with ad verification partners to block and measure ad fraud rates for display and video activity, as well as traffic fraud.
  • Identify and implement independent third-party technology to optimise towards client campaign goals.
  • Assess vendor competence. For example, using the TAG’s invalid traffic taxonomy.

3. Vet Media Partners

  • Keep supply chains short by working with TAG or IAB Gold Standard-certified partners who use certified vendors and media partners where possible.
  • Aim to understand the provenance of all media and avoid non-disclosed media.
  • Establish a media/partner vetting process which specifically looks at fraud by checking historical fraud levels, traffic composition, and ads.txt.
  • Implement technology, such as ads.txt and app-ads.txt, to track and detect fraud. Use best practice as defined by the IAB Tech Lab to champion media partner compliance with these tools, including ads.cert.
  • Establish sellers. json and SUPPLY CHAIN OBJECT as a pre-condition for all SSPs.
  • Where possible, seek OMSDK certification for viewability measurement.
  • Host an internal list of high-risk domains or partners for the wider organisation to avoid, using criteria within CAN manifestos, the infringing website list (IWL) and resources such as TAG’s Data Centre IP List (DCIP), to identify IP addresses that have been identified as having a high risk of being the origin of invalid traffic (IVT) – or of generating IVT.

4. Communicate Progress & Issues, Push for Continuous Improvement

  • Where fraud has been identified at scale, share the domains with the appropriate trade body and the platform they have been sold through.
  • Contractually clarify measurement to be used and financial penalties if campaigns are impacted by fraud.
  • Rebate of any inventory measured to be involuntary traffic, including fraudulent inventory.
  • Train all staff members involved in ad trading to follow best practices, and ensure they check their partners are also signed up to this process, using resources such as the TAG Registry.

Implementing the Manifestos

This overview outlines the first steps necessary to start adhering to each CAN manifesto:

  • Ensure all parts of your ad trading eco-system implement ads.txt.
  • Commit to the TAG Certified Against Fraud programme and complete independent verification via Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG).
  • Comply with TAG’s Detection & Filtration guidelines and employ Domain & IP Threat Filtering.
  • Designate a member of your organisation to the role of Compliance Officer who will attend annual ‘Certified Against Fraud’ training.
  • Implement Publisher Sourcing Disclosures and the Payment ID System where appropriate.

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