How Ad Fraud Affects Your Brand Safety

Richard Kahn - January 18, 2018

Ad fraud and brand safety are often lumped together as one in the same, but they’re not. While they cover the same topic (e.g. watching your traffic and ad placement), they’re completely separate, different ideologies. And the former heavily impacts the latter.

Here’s what you need to know about brand safety and how ad fraud affects it.

What Is Brand Safe?

When a company is okay with the placement of their ad, that’s defined as brand safe. However, the definition of brand safety is different for every business. Some companies are fine having their ads placed with edgier content whereas others may play it a bit more safe.

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For example, a family-oriented brand like Disney is heavily concerned with brand safety. Disney would not be okay with their ads being placed on a site that sells liquor. But the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, which caters to a more diverse demographic, would be fine with that ad placement.

Yet, neither brand would approve ad placement on an adult entertainment site. Again, brand safety is subjective to the individual brand. Since it’s subjective, at this time, there’s no universal rating system for brand safety. A lack of a universal standard makes it difficult for advertisers to navigate ad placement. And that also opens the door to ad fraud.

How Ad Fraud Affects Brand Safety

Fraudsters use a variety of ad fraud tricks that not only steal money from you but harm your brand safety, too. One common form is search ad fraud. Here, fraudsters develop fake websites that target pricey keywords. Then they sell that ad space to unsuspecting advertisers and drive up clicks using bots. In addition to illegitimate clicks, these fraudulent sites can also have potentially questionable content which may conflict with your level of brand safety comfort.

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On the flipside, you may be placed on a legitimate website that’s reputable; however, just because a site is deemed brand safe, doesn’t mean it isn’t affected by fraud. Every website is vulnerable, some more than others. One scenario could be ad injection, where fraudsters inject ads (without permission) onto a site.

Ad Injection.png

Source: Ben Edelman

Your paid for ad could be placed next to an injected ad for porn. Not only is that a brand safety nightmare for you, but for the site, too.   

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Brand

You can’t prevent all ad fraud, but you can mitigate it by being proactive and taking precautions. One tool to consider is ads.txt, which helps create transparency throughout the ad buying/selling chain to minimize ad injection and other ad fraud and brand safety issues. By using an anti-fraud solution, working with transparent publishers, and monitoring your campaign performance for any anomalies these are just a few ways you can protect yourself and save money.

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After all, by 2025 ad fraud is expected to reach an estimated $50 billion. Don’t let your brand be part of that disheartening statistic.

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Richard Kahn

Rich Kahn is the Co-Founder and CEO of Anura.io, an ad fraud solution that monitors traffic to identify real users versus bots, malware, and human fraud. Anura is the culmination of more than a decade of fraud detection efforts within digital marketing firm eZanga.com, which Rich also co-founded and owns. Previously, Rich held management roles at Verizon Wireless and Bloomberg, before starting his own internet service provider, First Street Corporation. He co-founded Paid for Surf, an advertising software company, and was the COO of the pay per click advertising network AdOrigin. Rich is considered an industry expert, having over 25 years of global experience with internet technology, digital advertising, ad fraud management, and elimination.