Ad Fraud: 10 Questions to Prevent an Uber-sized Problem
January 21, 2021
January 21, 2021
Social media activism organization Sleeping Giants recently blew the whistle on Uber for running ads on the far-right website Breitbart. Uber blacklisted the site in their ad campaign, yet somehow, ads kept showing up. The ride-share giant decided to pause ten percent of their ad spend, and expected to see a significant drop off in new users. They didn’t; instead, they found a much worse problem. Uber’s ads weren’t converting new people to join, and after further experimenting, they found that two-thirds of their ad budget — $100 million — was wasted on fraudulent metrics.
Fraud thrives in the world of programmatic advertising because it can be impossible to distinguish between fraud and an ineffective ad campaign. It is also a murky landscape of various types of vendors and sub-vendors, which can be challenging to understand, as illustrated in the infographic below.
Horror stories about large advertisers such as Uber, P&G, Chase, and eBay losing millions of marketing dollars to click farms can be enough to make any organization question the value of display advertising and retargeting. Despite widespread fear of ad fraud, online advertising remains a critical tool for building brand awareness. It doesn’t have to be scary.
Many digital marketers intentionally present the most favorable metrics so that brands will continue to spend money with them. The plethora of information available makes it very easy to cherry-pick the “good” data and hide away the “bad” data that is unfavorable to the marketer’s efforts. To that end, it’s also very easy to find unflattering metrics and use them to win business from your competitors. Vendors use lots of acronyms and buzzwords to demonstrate their programmatic expertise, which can be daunting for executives trying to understand the bottom line and what it all means.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of questions to help you see through the “vanity metrics” and identify ad fraud vs. poor campaign performance before they consume your marketing budget.
“Can you please provide us with. . .”
The next time your paid media manager tells you that your campaign performance is all rainbows and butterflies, refer back to this list. You will be able to determine if what they are saying is true and maximize your precious advertising budget.