Do SMEs need to worry about online ad fraud?

SmartCompany, August 2, 2017

One of the biggest stories we’ve been talking about this week reports about large scale ad fraud. Apparently many large publishers, including Google, did a study and found out that billions of dollars are spent annually on fraudulent ads. It all boils down to a certain kind of ad.

There are a number of different kinds of ads online. The kind that follows you around online (do a search for coffee and you’ll see coffee ads all day) are known as retargeted display advertising. Other types of ads use a thing called ad exchanges. With these, you enter your site into a big pool, and advertisers can bid on which sites in the pool they want to advertise on.

As you’d expect, if the scammers can find a way to make money on something, they’ll move in and start scamming. And that’s what’s being done in the ad exchanges. Scammers are going in and saying they advertise on large sites like Time-Warner, when they don’t. They walk away with the money and the sites get no ads displayed. So now there’s going to be a new initiative meant to stop these scammers by adding a separate small file on your site.

The thing is, I’m wondering why it’s such a big deal. If you’re worried about ad fraud, you aren’t measuring in your total cost of acquisition. If your total cost is around $20, ad fraud could equate to $3 to $5 per customer. That might be a bit high and you could reduce it with a little effort, but if you’re getting the increases you want within your acceptable costs, why worry about it? There are better ways to spend your time than tracking down scammers that will never go away, no matter what you do, particularly as they are always ensuring they stay one step ahead of industry changes. Expend your energy elsewhere.