US launches program to tackle ad fraud

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 24 May 2016
[Photo credit: Got Credit] A copy of the creative commons license can be found here

The US is ramping up efforts to tackle ad fraud by launching the Trustworthy Accountability Group's (TAG) certified against fraud initiative.

The program provides buyers, sellers and intermediaries in the digital advertising supply chain with a kitemark that certifies they have adhered to anti-fraud requirements.

Organisations that join the TAG registry go through a rigorous review process to ensure inventory is trustworthy and ads are note being placed on websites run by criminals.

However, joining the program comes at a cost, at least $20,000 annually to receive the “Verified by TAG” stamp.

Companies that have joined so far include Amobee, AppNexus, News Corp, Interpublic Group, WPP, Rubicon Project, Publicis Worldwide, Collective, DoubleVerify, Dstillery, Index Exchange, MediaMath and Omnicom.

“Going forward, TAG will name and proclaim the companies leading the fight against digital ad fraud through a ‘Certified Against Fraud’ seal that recognises their efforts to protect partners and customers,” says Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG.

“Participants in the digital ad supply chain can now ask a simple question to tell if their partners have taken the necessary steps to fight ad fraud: ‘Are you TAG Certified Against Fraud?’ As more TAG anti-fraud seals are awarded, the cracks in our industry exploited by bad actors will also be sealed against their criminal endeavours.”

Could Australia follow suit? 

Ad fraud is a massive issue in the US and is estimated to cost $7.2 billion this year alone, according to a study by the US Association of National Advertisers.

In Australia, the problem is less severe, with 8.7% of Australian online ads fraudulently viewed by bots at a cost of $120 million.

Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA) chief executive Josanne Ryan tells AdNews there are no plans in Australia to launch a similar TAG style initiative, and ad fraud is only an concern for 22% of marketers and 26% of media agencies, according to a recent AMAA study.

“I think they trust in how they are planning campaigns but there is an acknowledgement they cant control the supply chain,”Ryan explains. “What you are seeing in the US with traditional media that is much easier to monitor.

“America is a very big market and there is other issues in the supply chain then there is here. Agencies on behalf of their clients are looking to identify fraud because tech providers do that with them."

Ryan adds that industry collaboration is the key to tackling ad fraud, but which framework is used is up for debate.

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