Simple actions to fix online traffic fraud: IAB Canada

Computerhands

By Chris Williams, president at IAB Canada

Online traffic fraud is a hot topic that is well explained in many places. Instead of re-hashing trampled ground, let’s recognize that a couple of simple actions are the base of this problem and propose an interim standard that would change the game.

•  Andrew Casale, who sits on the IAB Canada board of directors, has suggested in this article that “Seller ID” is a simple addition to the OpenRTB API Specification Version 2.0.

•  Additionally the US office of IAB’s Traffic of Good Intent (TOGI) Traffic Fraud: Best Practices for Reducing Risk to Exposure (PDF) identifies publishers purchasing traffic as a weak link in the supply chain.

It would be a valuable step for stakeholders to consider implementing these directions and for the market to digest the implications for their operations.

Simply knowing who the sellers are in any marketplace goes a long way to fixing fraud problems while also supporting quality concepts. The Bordeaux wine industry worked this one out back in 1855, and it has stood the test of time. So much so that it is the basis of most wines of origin certification worldwide, VQA in Canada for instance. Given how much booze this industry pops back, you would think we would have stumbled on this concept earlier. Perhaps we should spend a little more time reading bottles than tipping them.

A huge part of the vintner classification is the domain of the grower. Buyers deserve to know where the vineyard is that grew the grapes. Further, no one in their right mind would suggest that Chateau Pomerol blend their juice with unknown sources to improve their inventories. Simply put, domain in their world equals domain in our world and therefore the industry should recognize media vendors that source their inventory entirely from within the domains they own and operate, Mis-en-bouteille au Chateau. We could call this 100% organic traffic. Many Canadian media suppliers are well down this path if not already there.

Andrew suggests publishing the name on the seller’s paycheck within the Ad Exchange, which is another excellent step, and we could investigate a little further. It is possible to use industry standard identification procedures such as Dun and Bradstreet’s D-U-N-S numbers or look at using a startup such as the one from Pubchecker. Buyers would have a much richer picture of the sellers they are potentially working with and allow them to create better defined white lists. In addition to geo-targeting of inventory, there could be geo-acceptance of vendors. Marketers could define white lists of country of origin – Canada and US: yes; Moldava and Khazakstan: no.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a Canadian addendum to the standard defining online media exchanges? If, through our working groups, we are able further refine and define the implications of Seller ID, it is likely we will find additional benefits that add more transparency in the Canadian market.

In this scenario marketers would be able to give much clearer guidance for the development of media strategies. Similar to knowing how to manage television buying guidelines around fringe versus prime for price optimization, marketers would have a framework to define the levels of control versus price that they are comfortable with. This is different than the quality of the actual impressions bought, buyers may find quality inventory at low prices through blind buying but the control over the transaction is much looser.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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