Corporate Eye

Online Advertising Traffic Fraud Best Practices Released by IAB

online advertising traffic fraud handcuffsOnline advertising has been plagued with bad press in recent years with traffic fraud and click fraud being some of the most talked about problems for online advertisers. This month, The Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB’s) Traffic of Good Intent Task Force released a new report titled “Traffic Fraud: Best Practices for Reducing Risk to Exposure.” The report explains the various types of traffic fraud as well as best practices to reduce traffic fraud for advertisers and ad buyers, for publishers, and for ad networks.

In a press release, the IAB Traffic of Good Intent Task Force is calling for all advertisers, ad buyers, networks, and publishers to work together to stop online advertising traffic fraud. Not only is it illegal, but it’s also costing advertisers a lot of money. Gavin O’Malley of MediaPost reports that Steve Sullivan, vice president of advertising technology at IAB, believes traffic fraud equates to a minimum to $6 billion to $7 billion wasted per year.

Fighting Online Advertising Traffic Fraud

To help brand advertisers fight traffic fraud, the IAB created the following questions to ask publishers. While it’s unlikely that small publishers will have all of the requested information, advertisers should speak up and demand that larger publishers provide it.

  • Do you have your audience measured by verifiable third party systems?
  • Do you have a clean record with third-party brand safety reports?
  • How do you determine which impressions are exposed to real humans?
  • How do you assure that ads are served as reported, and that URLS are visible to the advertiser?
  • How do you determine whether ads are auto-initiated or user-initiated?
  • Do you provide protection from malware?
  • Are impressions generated by malware redirecting to a site?

Far-Reaching Negative Effects of Online Advertising Traffic Fraud

Not only does online advertising traffic fraud mean wasted budget dollars for brand advertisers, but it also means skewed tracking data. Accurately analyzing the performance of online ads that have been compromised by click fraud is impossible, but most often, the advertiser doesn’t even know that the performance data should be questioned. Ultimately, future marketing strategies, tactics, and ad buys will be created based on this inaccurate data, which means the negative effects of online advertising traffic fraud are far-reaching and can last for a very long time.

You can visit the IAB website to view the complete traffic fraud report as well Digital Simplified, the IAB’s short overview of what online advertising traffic fraud is and why all stakeholders should take action to stop it.

Image: Foxumon

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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+.