An online ad fraud counterattack built with blockchain, AI and cryptography

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Online ad fraud is a big problem because it wastes the money of the advertisers. B2B marketers need to remain aware of the new technologies that are of great help to restrict the growing menace of ad fraud.

Ad Fraud has costed advertisers a loss of around $18 billion in 2018 that represents around 9% of their total digital advertising spend.

Types of Ad Fraud

The following types of ad fraud are encountered by advertisers on a daily basis:

Ad stacking: This happens when the publisher places several ads on top on one other and counts impression for each one of them while only the top ad in the stack gets seen. This is a huge loss for the advertisers while publishers reap in huge amount of money.

Pixel stuffing: Here, the publisher stuffs ads on the pixels which are so minute that users can’t view them. However, each of the ad gets counted as the pixel is loaded.

Traffic fraud: In this type of fraud, publishers purchase bot traffic in order to increase the number of ad impressions happening on their site. This is perhaps the most difficult of all to track down. Even big tech giants like Google find it hard to nail down bots that pass fraudnet traffic in order to increase impressions.

Conversion fraud: Action drives conversions and some bots capitalize on this principle to interact with ads in order to get counted as a conversion. However real sale never happens resulting in loss of advertiser’s money.

Ad injection: In this type of fraudulent ad activity, ads appear on sites as browser extensions that gets displayed on top of genuine ads in order to raise impressions.

New Technologies Helping to Prevent Ad Fraud

Now, let’s have a look at the new technologies that are successful in combating fraudulent publishers and ad fraud:

Blockchain

Big brands have already started to use blockchain technology to fight ad fraud. Clear Coin, a startup based in the US allows brands to buy media on the blockchain simple and seamless. The platform powers a system allowing for complete data transparency that everyone can trust.

ClearCoin works with the supply chain of the $563 billion media and advertising industry. The prevention of ad fraud lies on the model of distributed ledger blockchain technology that can improve the supply chain of the rapidly growing media and advertising industry.

The solutions powered by blockchain helps to increase efficiencies and reduce the reported $18 billion of annual ad fraud. Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube have already partnered with Clear Coin to power up their advertising.

Artificial Intelligence

Automatic filtering of fraudulent IP addresses and spam bots using artificial intelligence is one of the best ways to fight ad fraud. Platforms like ClickCease leverages the power of artificial intelligence and monitors site traffic at all times. The technology instantly notifies Google to block the IP as soon as the click fraud is detected.

ClickCease uses a sophisticated “double layer” monitoring system that is able to instantly detect any type of click fraud. The system uses an HTML code that detects the attacker’s activity on the advertisers website. Moreover, the system has an Adwords tracking template that connects ClickCease directly to Google in order to get unique information regarding each click.

Cryptography

Very few of us know it but every user has its own distinct cryptographic identity. This cryptographic identity is auto-generated in the user browser the first time they see an ad. Thereafter, every interaction that the user has with the ad is in the form of signed messages. These signed messages can be used to identify the genuineness of the user.

A system is applied which collects all signed messages and calculates them at a later stage. If the user is identified as fraud then all messages signed by that particular use is excluded from the main system.

Advertisers can simply ask for the cryptographic identity of the users from the publishers which can stand as a proof of work. It will be hard for the publisher to generate cryptographic identities of every individual user as the process is time consuming. This will eventually help to eliminate click fraud.

Conclusion

Blockchain and other technologies described above have certainly promised to effectively combat the growing menace of ad fraud. However, brands, advertising agencies and publishers must stand together and collaborate on a shared database to stop ad fraud.

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Joydeep Bhattacharya

Joydeep Bhattacharya is the author of the popular SEO blog, SEOsandwitch.com and has been a digital marketing evangelist for the past 8 years. He is a certified Google Adwords and Analytics expert who helps brands take their online presence to the next level.