According to a new report, Google is issuing refunds to advertisers whose ads recorded fake traffic on its sites. Even though Google is said to be investing in a tool that offers more transparency to its online advertisers, the refunds made for ads bought with DoubleClick Bid Manager — the company’s automated technology — suggests that fake ads are a bigger problem than the company has previously acknowledged. This platform is typically used to reach out to audiences, across varied and vast number of websites, in seconds through real-time auctions on online ad exchanges and marketplaces that connect buyers and publishers. Reports suggest that some refunds were as large as ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’. The ads were placed on partner sites with fake traffic created by bots, or automated software programs that pretend to be legitimate users.
Previously, advertisers and publishers have battled with Google to let them access more of its extensive data to help them improve how ads are targeted and measure whether they are effective. In July this year, Oath — the umbrella brand for more than 50 media and technology brands — had acknowledged that online ad fraud is a growing problem. “Oath has invested in proprietary technology on our buying platforms, including BrightRoll and ONE by AOL, that aims to enforce supply transparency and prevent domain spoofing across a majority of supply partners. Combined with our longtime partnership with the IAB, industry-leading third-party fraud measurement across our platforms and human review safeguards, we are fully committed to a safe, transparent supply chain for our advertiser partners,” Oath had said in a statement then.
Ad fraud would cost companies around the globe $16.4 billion in 2017.
Google has been working on several safeguards including working with other industry executives and companies to make it easier to spot counterfeit ads through ads.txt. This initiative for publishers, introduced by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab, aims to help ad buyers avoid illegitimate sellers. Though it has been slow to gain traction, Google is pushing for it.
Compiled by Ananya Saha