Online advertisers still care about clicks, but there’s increasing concern that large quantities of this basic data on user interaction might be meaningless.
In December, a study by the Association of National Advertisers, in collaboration with digital ad fraud security vendors White Ops, estimated that eleven per cent of display ad impressions, almost a quarter of video ad impressions, and more than half of bought third party traffic, were fraudulent.
Facing fraudulent payments estimated at over $6 billion in 2015, agencies representing corporations like AIG and MillerCoors are demanding evidence that traffic is authentic.
The fraudulent activity is perpetrated by botnets, swarms of rogue devices hijacked by cybercriminals, and used to drive phoney traffic to websites where payment is collected for apparently popular ads and links.
Reports say that ad buying agencies are now writing benchmark requirements for 95 percent proven human traffic into contracts. The burden of enforcement may fall disproportionately onto web publishers who purchase traffic from third party sources, and may now be obliged to scan and authenticate its sources–or pay an audit firm to do so.