How to Fight Ad Fraud in 2019

03/04/2019 - Sierra Ducey

In 2016, the Association of National Advertisers published a report chock full of findings that brought media buying transparency to light, highlighting the messy relationship between advertisers and agencies. Three years later, “transparency” remains an industry keyword as agencies push for better relationships with their media partners. However, it isn’t all bad news. Media buyers, publishers and advertisers are working very hard to find solutions to combat the issues regarding ad fraud. And, in the past three years, there has been tremendous effort to find solutions to combat the major issues the ANA brought forward.

What are the types of ad frauds that we are still facing?

  1. Domain Spoofing: Serving ads on a site other than the one provided in a Real Time Bid – or  RTB request.
  2. Bots: Malicious software applications that mirror human browsing such as site visits, clicking on links and watching videos and visiting.
  3. Pixel Stuffing & Ad Stacking: Pixel stuffing occurs when an ad that was designed to appear at 1,024:480 pixels is crammed into a 1:1 pixel square so although the ad is shown on a screen, there is no way a viewer would see it. Ad stacking is placing multiple ads on top of another where only the top one is seen, all the ads are registered as an impression.
  4. Masking URLs: URL masking is often done using an iframe, or a window within a window. Sites that want to mask their URLs place their ads within these iframes, so they still show on the page but point back to another website. Multiple iframes can be layered on top of each other, making it especially tricky to figure out where an ad is live.
  5. Ghost Sites: These are blank pages that are set up and pushed into low quality ad exchanges.
  6. Fraudulent Traffic Brokers: This is someone who promises a publisher increased traffic but uses bots in order to simulate human traffic.

How to Avoid Ad Fraud

When deciding where to allocate advertising dollars, although it seems simple, if a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Don’t focus too much on low CPMs and CPCs, but rather focus on your campaign goal (sales, sign-ups, awareness) and find a partner who can see these goals come to fruition.
Having an open and transparent conversation with your media partner helps to alleviate the threat of ad fraud. However, taking this another step, find a media partner that actively combats ad fraud and ensures that your media dollars are being placed in ideal web settings. At Digilant, we use tactics to prevent ad fraud and partner with other companies who help to fight against ad fraud. These tactics include:


This is a simple, flexible method for publishers and distributors to clearly state which companies are authorized to use their digital inventory. Companies drop a text file on their website that lists the different companies authorized to sell inventory on their site. This will enable buyers to see which programmatic firms have authorization to sell ad space on specific websites, ensuring validity in their purchase. The upkeep for this process is also simple. Someone will have to monitor additions to an ads.txt list to stay up to date with authorized sellers.

Private Marketplace

Private marketplaces are auctions that are only open to select advertisers through an invitation-only format. Some of these entail only one publisher offering up ad space, while others have a few. Before the auction, buyers and sellers negotiate a deal. Each deal is given a unique ID and advertisers bid on that deal only – inventory that does not meet the deal will not be bid on. This marketplace structure requires more work, however, it is much more transparent.

Digilant can help!

When researching best practices to avoid ad fraud, many sites list things such as: monitoring your campaign closely, knowing your metrics, using trusted ad networks, and increasing data sharing. Although these practices are necessary safeguards to assure that your digital media dollars are yielding optimal ROI, it can be daunting for a marketer to approach alone. Fortunately, there are programmatic partners like Digilant that employ all of these things, relieving marketers from the stress out of constantly monitoring and questioning the efficacy of their digital media campaigns.

So, although ad fraud is still a fight that the digital world is figuring out, solutions are emerging that seek to put an end to the battle. These solutions are already helping to solve the problem and as technology continues to evolve, they will become more advanced and powerful. In the meantime, choosing a partner that you can trust is a great first step to successfully investing your media dollars.

Interested in learning more about the transparent practices that Digilant utilizes as a programmatic partner? Reach out to us here to learn more about our digital media buying solutions and services

2019 Programmatic Media Buying Trends

Fee Transparency has become imperative for ad buyers. Agencies want to work with media buyers that they can trust and communicate effectively with about their campaign goals. Media vendors need to ensure that they inventory is safe and valid, taking the necessary precautions such as using ads.txt and private marketplaces. Agencies should also use caution when choosing a media partner, do research about them and ensure that they are implementing ad fraud prevention tactics. The fight for transparency has been going on for years, however as more companies require valid solutions to the problems, media companies will find solutions to ensure media dollars are not being wasted.

Digilant has identified ten programmatic trends that will impact 2019. To read them all you can view our infographic here.

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