Corporate Eye

Combatting Online Advertising Traffic Fraud

online advertising fraudThe problems of online advertising traffic fraud and click fraud affect every brand and publisher. According to Michael Tiffany, CEO of White Ops, a company that uses data and technology to combat fraudulent ad campaigns, even premium brands and publishers are exposed to online advertising traffic fraud. In other words, it has become completely invasive across the internet and no brand or publisher is safe.

Tiffany explains in an interview with Ad Age at the recent Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Annual Leadership Meeting that it’s hard to accurately quantify just how big of a problem online advertising traffic fraud really is because it fluctuates from day to day. Unfortunately, Tiffany explains, “the ad ecosystem isn’t effective in differentiating real human engagement and the scriptable engagement that bots can do. The bots these days are very sophisticated. They can take sophisticated action like putting things in shopping carts—signals of success that are automated and look like engaged human audiences. If you can’t tell the difference between that and real human engagement, then you’re monetizing bot traffic.”

Tiffany identifies several losers at the hands of online advertising traffic fraud:

  • Advertisers because they pay for impressions or visitors that aren’t real.
  • Publishers because bot traffic artificially increases supply which leads to decreased advertising prices.

“Quality content publishers are essentially competing with fake and that has driven down prices across the board,” says Tiffany. To stop online advertising traffic fraud, everyone in the ad ecosystem needs to join in a coordinated effort.” Tiffany believes that ad space buyers need to make informed decision and standards need to be put in place at all points in the advertising process to combat fraud, including networks, exchanges, and so on. He describes the magnitude of the fight against online advertising traffic fraud as, “an ongoing arms race against an adaptive adversary that makes a lot of money so they can put a lot of resources into defeating us.”

Tiffany’s insights into online advertising fraud are spot on, and you can watch the full interview below for all of the details.

With more people understanding how pervasive and damaging online advertising traffic fraud is, and a larger investment in combating the problem, there is hope for the future. Unfortunately, that hope still seems to be a long way off.

How do you account for online advertising traffic fraud in your digital advertising buying procedures and performance analysis process? Leave a comment and share your thoughts below.

Image: Jakub Krechowicz via

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.