Evaluating Data to Stop Ad Fraud and Boost Marketing ROI


“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker

John Wanamaker said the quiet part out loud: with ad dollars spread between print ads, billboards, direct mail, catalogs, and maybe some radio, there was no way for merchants to know what ultimately motivated consumers to buy a particular product or choose a specific brand. Marketing was something businesses knew they had to do, but it often felt like throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping something would stick.

Then along came the internet and digital advertising. Marketers were promised the ability to target their advertising efforts directly to their target audience and know, in real-time, who was buying, what their “journey” looked like, and what message triggered their purchasing decision. Finally, marketers would have the information they needed to better focus their advertising efforts, know their customers, and prove their value to the CEO and the CFO! But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Now, marketers are drowning in data that is likely skewed and often without context, structure, or a strategic plan to leverage it—and they’re still wasting as much as 50 percent of their ad dollars.

Marketers are at a loss. Brands and budgets are at risk. Is there an easy way to put marketing data to work to make campaigns more effective?

There’s No Shortage of Marketing Data

In a recent report, marketing agencies revealed a number of concerns about the digital advertising space, including ads being served to the wrong audience and protecting the safety and value of a brand. There are plenty of data points that can help marketers address these issues: demographic, technographic, quantitative, and qualitative, to name a few. And data can come from more than a few sources: customer databases, website traffic, social media, internal resources, Google Analytics…and the list goes on and on.

So, the challenge isn’t that there’s no data to help guide marketers and effectively measure campaign results. The challenge is having so much data in so many places, with no standards in place and no one dedicated to reviewing and reporting the data findings. Many marketers lack confidence in themselves to evaluate the data, while others lack confidence in the data itself.

So much data combined with so little time and expertise to leverage it leads to frustration all the way around. Marketers and management see that their marketing efforts aren’t as effective as they should be. And what happens when marketing efforts don’t work as expected? Ad budgets get cut. Brands lose exposure. Sales decline.

Programmatic: Convenient, Cheap, Fraught with Fraud

In Wanamaker’s time, brands may not know what was and wasn’t working, but at least they could see where their ads were running. Print publications would send tear sheets with their invoices. Catalogs got delivered to mailboxes. Billboards were prominently displayed on buildings or rose above roadways.

Much of today’s ad budgets goes toward digital ads. In the U.S. alone, digital ad spending is expected to consume more than 76 percent of total media spend in 2024. According to a study by the Association of National Advertisers, most will be placed programmatically across as many as 44,000 websites. It simply isn’t feasible for marketers to check 44,000 websites to make sure that the ads are viewable, that they aren’t placed next to inappropriate content, and that they aren’t on sites that are known to spread disinformation.

Ads that aren’t viewable can’t possibly be effective, and ads placed next to inappropriate content or on questionable websites can damage a brand’s reputation. These are major concerns with programmatic advertising and can significantly decrease the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Ad fraud is another problem with programmatic advertising. In our experience, on average 50 percent of programmatic ad spend is lost to ad fraud. While programmatic advertising is fraught with problems, many marketers feel that is the price they must pay for the convenience, reach, and low cost it offers.

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How Stopping Ad Fraud Can Restore Confidence in Marketing Data

Bots and human click farms can drive up the number of impressions and clicks you pay for without any return. That’s money wasted right off the top.

Those fake impressions and clicks can also skew your data. When marketers see they are getting a lot of responses from certain channels, they may assume those efforts are paying off and invest more time and money into those channels. Instead of seeing increased sales or valid leads, they see even lower ROI and can’t figure out why their advertising campaigns are failing to measure up to expectations.

By detecting and stopping different types of ad fraud, marketers can begin to see better results right away because they aren’t wasting money on fake impressions, clicks, and leads. And that’s just the beginning.

If an ad fraud solution does nothing but detect and prevent ad fraud, it is worth the investment. However, the ideal ad fraud partner goes above and beyond preventing ad fraud. The data used to detect and stop fraud can also provide insight into where your marketing efforts are working.
An ad fraud solution should also easily integrate with all your web assets, providing quick and easy access to your data. To be effective for the long-term, ad fraud prevention is not a “set it and forget it” solution. Fraudsters constantly change their tactics, so you need a partner who is one step ahead, providing continuous expert support.

When marketers know which channels deliver the most and the best leads, they can redirect budgets to those channels and publishers and stop spending money on those that aren’t working. The data can also reveal information on visitors that convert, information that can be used to better identify your target audience, which will also improve campaign performance.

Can an ad fraud solution solve all of marketers’ challenges with data and campaign performance? Truthfully, no. But if you don’t have access to the data you need and don’t have a clear understanding of the data you do have, it’s a good idea to start with something that has been proven effective at increasing effectiveness. Preventing ad fraud reduces wasted spend and provides solid baseline data that can lay the foundation for better marketing results going forward.

The best way to start with ad fraud prevention is to learn how much fraud you have. That’s why Anura offers a free, fully functional 15-day trial where we get to know you, review your data, and identify your current fraud issues. If you’re ready to start fighting ad fraud and improving your marketing performance, contact us today or click the button below to start a free trial.

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