Top tips for preventing ad fraud: AAM

Steve Guenther, VP of digital auditing services at AAM with the top tips for publishers and ad tech companies to prevent ad fraud.

Impression stacking, click farms, botnets. Ad fraud is out there, and though Steve Guenther, VP of digital auditing services at the Alliance of Audited Media (AAM), says there isn’t a way to definitively know how much digital inventory is impacted, there are steps that publishers and ad tech companies can take to make it less appealing for fraudsters.

Guenther, who was presenting at yesterday’s Association for Canadian Advertisers event on ad fraud prevention, has more than 20 years experience in digital technology auditing. Prior to working at AAM, he was a founding partner and VP of digital at auditing specialist company ImServices Group, which merged with AAM in the spring.

“Fundamentally we have gotten away from some best practices, gone to automation and lost some of the relationships that had been developed in other traditional media,” he says of the root causes behind ad fraud. “Just because the technology allows you to do that. That allows people to enter into the eco-system that are purely driven based on financial gain and aren’t interested in providing any value to the advertiser, they’re just interested in making a buck.”

Here’s an overview of his tips on what publishers and ad tech companies can do to minimize fraud.


- Vet traffic sources, especially ones that they have paid for.

- Monitor internal controls for how employees are compensated for jumps in traffic to ensure those increases are legitimate.

- Pressure their vendors because they use some of these ad tech companies to deliver data. They need to make sure the vendors they work with are compliant with industry best practices.

Ad tech companies:

- Make sure they are on top of the latest industry best practices from organizations like IAB Canada and the Media Ratings Council.

- Have tools in place to identify fraudulent activity. Guenther says the AAM is part of a project in the US along with the IAB and MRC to define what the minimum requirements should be to detect, if not prevent, fraudulent activity. Companies should be checking that sites have a government ID, and that they have been around for more than 90 days.

- Follow the money, which Guenther says is easier said than done. “At the end of the day the only way these fraudsters get paid is if they drive users to their sites to bill networks. If they can’t set up these fraudulent sites then they don’t get paid. And if they don’t get paid then they go away.”