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  • Writer's pictureChris Bowler

Solutions to digital ad fraud

Get up to speed on these three Blockchain providers

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that ad fraud continues to plague the digital advertising world. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) estimates that online ad fraud costs advertisers $8.2 billion annually.

Pixalate, a data intelligence and fraud prevention firm, estimates fraud at 21% of digital ads in Q4 2018, and it's rising. Now, if you are an advertiser spending any budget on digital, would you stand for this? Well, maybe some would. What if nearly a quarter of your products were returned as faulty? Yeah, you would be out of business.

As you may know, much of the fraud originates from invalid traffic from bots and fake users. Domain spoofing remains the most pervasive type of ad fraud where a low-quality publisher disguises itself as a premium publisher (in order to capture a higher rate). And ad fraud isn't just a problem for advertisers. Blame ad fraud on draining your cell phone battery too!

For a few years now, adtech pioneers have developed potential solutions rooted in emerging financial tech - namely, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain. In other words, Bitcoin!

I attended a webinar this week sponsored by Never Stop Marketing which provided a good overview of the developments in how blockchain is being deployed to solve the ad fraud problem.

Here's how things work, without getting too wonky. Today's digital advertising ecosystem relies on open data transfers between the ad buyer, the various middlemen (ie DSPs/SSPs) and the publishers. The data handoffs are so messy that, at a minimum, there are always discrepancies between what was bought versus delivered. But more importantly these open exchanges are so insecure that bad actors move in.

That's where blockchain for adtech can be a solution. You see, by design, a blockchain secures the data between each party in a verifiable and permanent way. Some interesting blockchain-based ad solutions have approached the solution in different ways.

  • Lucidity is an analytics platform which generates a clean, unified 'Confirmed Data Set' for advertisers which, once deployed, removes discrepant sites to improve overall campaign performance.

  • Brave takes a different approach. Its foundation is a proprietary ad browser which is an ad blocker by design but enables users to opt-in to certain ads. With already over 5 million active users, the unique proposition here is multifold: a faster user experience (no ads); complete data privacy for users; and security for advertisers. Users can use and earn cryptocurrency for watching ads on the platform. Of course, it's unclear whether the Brave browser will truly take off. It has some pretty daunting adversaries (Google, Facebook, and pretty much any ad-powered model). But still, it's an intriguing solution.

  • Rebel AI works with existing ad models. Their adtech, called Passport, is based on a data key which is assigned to every publisher. The keys are encrypted and decrypted using blockchain which provides verifiable ad delivery.

Bottom line: if you are an advertiser or agency, you'd be advised to get up to speed on blockchain adtech. Even more, you'd be smart to test these solutions (20% performance lift, anyone?). If you aren't a large scale digital advertiser, pay attention nevertheless. Solutions such as Brave may upend your marketing world sooner than you think Too much money is at stake.


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