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Study: ad fraud is a big problem that could cost you big time

(MARKETING) A recent reports highlights a new and quickly growing trend in marketing/ advertising – ad fraud.

ad fraud

Fake news ads

Cases of ad fraud – in which marketers are fooled into buying useless ads – “continue to grow, both in their scope and their level of sophistication.” That’s according to eMarketer analyst, Lauren Fisher, who authored a report on the subject entitled US Ad Fraud 2017: Buyers and Sellers Fall Prey to More Sophisticated Forms.

“Fraud detection and prevention tools have advanced, but so have the lengths to which fraudulent parties go to deceive buyers,” says Fisher.

Ad fraud shapeshifting

According to the report, while ad fraud is on the rise, and becoming more difficult to detect, it remains nearly impossible to quantify the cost to industries. It’s difficult to keep track of all of the myriad forms of fraud, especially with new schemes being cooked up all the time.

Says Fisher, “For one, no single source has the capacity to audit every single display ad impression, nor the technical wherewithal to detect all forms of fraud.”

Furthermore, some studies only look at select forms of fraud, like bot-based or nonhuman traffic.”

Ad fraud everywhere

However, most experts agree that ad fraud could be costing digital marketing billions of dollars.

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Ad fraud is especially rampant in mobile and video ads, and in less transparent markets.

The Adobe Digital Insights Summit Survey asked US digital marketers to report their top challenges when it comes to media buying. More than half of the respondents said that one of their biggest challenges was “brand safety,” which included ad fraud – more so than any other concern, including data integration.


A marketer’s vulnerability to ad fraud depends on a number of factors, including who they are buying media from and how they find and vet these sources, the formats of the ads themselves, whether or not the company has fraud prevention strategies, and how actively they are monitoring their ads for fraud.

To learn more about ad fraud, check out the report at


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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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