IAB forms Brand Safety Council to tackle ad fraud

By Brendan Coyne | 24 April 2014
Reckitt Benckiser is just one brand which has fallen victim to "impression fraud"

The IAB has formalised the Brand Safety Council formed by the ad industry to tackle ad fraud.

One of the thorniest issues is impression fraud, where rogue publishers publishers syndicate players to sites that are not registered on an ad exchange. That leads to ads being pushed onto those illegal sites and the gangs that set them up taking the advertiser's money. The ad platform only sees the parent site and so the scammers can avoid detection. Brand safety tools work, but are not watertight.

Such sites mimic legal sites through a technique called URL masking, tapping into different ad networks and ad servers to serve video ads.

When sites are discovered to be rogue they are blacklisted but then the perpetrators move on and the fraudsters' technology is improving, making detection more difficult.

After a story that implicated many industry players late last year (referred to as 'Black Thursday'), agency trading desks and advertising technology platform providers came together to tackle the problem. Around 30 individuals met up to work on education, solutions and a rapid response unit to tackle the problem as it arises.

Now the IAB has formalised the group as a council. The so-called 'Interesting Times Gang' met yesterday for the second time at Google's Sydney HQ. That group will remain intact in terms of feeding in to the working group and flagging and heading of fraud issues, but the actual working group will be slimmed down to around 10-15 people by next month, IAB CEO Alice Manners told AdNews.

The Brand Safety Council will then aim to work out the scale of the broader ad fraud problem in Australia, which Manners said was quite small, define and break down fraud into its component parts and educate the market about how to tackle each element. She added that a research study to contextualise the problem in Australia would kick off in the next few months. One of the questions asked will be what the public makes of ad fraud - and whether outside of the media bubble they actually care.

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