Authored by Bob Hoffman, author of the “Ad Contrarian” blog and writer of several books including "BadMen: How Advertising Went From A Minor Annoyance To A Major Menace," "Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey," and "101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising"
Ad Fraud Is Off The Charts
In one of the most imprudent announcements in years, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) congratulated itself a while back on having achieved a 10% reduction in ad fraud in 2017.
"The fraud decline is particularly impressive recognizing that this is occurring when digital advertising spending is expected to increase by 10 percent or more."
According to their calculations, global ad fraud dropped from $7.2 billion in 2016 to $6.5 billion in 2017.
The ANA announced this despite unmistakable indications that ad fraud is growing ferociously and is completely out of control. Every reputable independent ad fraud expert I know peed their pants laughing at this bullshit. Now there's some serious data indicating how ludicrously delusional the ANA and the marketing industry are.
A new report released by Adobe last week indicated that actual losses to ad fraud may be 10 times the ANA's number. The Adobe study, reported in The Wall Street Journal, claims that...
"...about 28% of website traffic showed strong “non-human signals,” leading the company to believe that the traffic came from bots or click farms."
Using Adobe's 28% number and projecting this out over $237 billion in estimated online ad spending this year (WARNING: COPYWRITER MATH COMING UP) I calculate that online ad fraud may reach $66 billion in 2018. This is astonishing, even to an old hysteric like me.
And it may even be higher. The Adobe calculation is based on the signals that Adobe can detect. Since the fraudsters are always one step ahead, it is reasonable to assume that there is some undetected fraud. Praneet Sharma CTO of Method Media Intelligence says, "Avoiding detection will be the major obstacle that fraudsters will present."
According to another ad fraud expert, Dr. Augustine Fou, "No matter what you are hearing or reading about digital ad fraud, I can assure you it's actually worse than you think."
Ya know, ten billion here, ten billion there...it starts to add up.