Marketers lack the skills to tackle ad fraud alone

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Most marketers do not have the computer science or web programming skills to deal with the intricacies of the digital advertising ecosystem.

Shailin Dhar, CEO of ad measurement business Method Media Intelligence (MMI) spoke to iTnews Digital Nation about the perceived complexities of the adtech environment, and the difficulty that marketers experience in facing these challenges alone.

“If you look at the educational background of most people in marketing these days, it is some sort of social science, communications, marketing, maybe even advertising specifically, but very rarely is it computer science, or web programming or anything like that,” says Dhar.

“For many enterprises, these decisions are all being made about digital web based technologies by people who don't have backgrounds in technology.”

Dhar claims that the transition of marketing to almost entirely digital, craves the expertise of I.T. professionals.

“If you're at an enterprise that has a marketing department, and an IT department, when it comes to selecting ad technologies, it's very, very important to have both teams in the room.”

Marketers, says Dhar, are being duped by their own tricks, and falling victim to “marketing and hype”.

According to Dhar, “There's certain companies that are talking about, ‘we do real time analysis of the emotion behind the content, so that your brand doesn't appear in the wrong place’. I mean, that's so far beyond reality, that it's really not even funny. Because tens of millions of dollars will get spent on something like this, to bear no fruit.”

The issue in dealing with the challenges of the ad tech ecosystem, such as ad fraud, is not only a lack of skill, but also a lack of motivation, says Dhar.

“Really where most initiatives die is that there just hasn't been the effort or even motivation to approach the problem with the full force of that organisation.”

But for those who do want to take on ad fraud head first, they are often blocked by not owning the ad tech contracts, making it even more difficult to screen for fraud.

“Very rarely do marketers, the brands that actually spend all the money, own the contracts with the ad technologies that are serving and buying all their advertising. And so you have these layers of abstraction that make it very hard to audit anything.”

The auction environment for buying and selling ads happens in a matter of seconds. This makes it nearly impossible for marketers to detect bots before paying for an ad, in this environment, as they are left with only milliseconds to make a judgement, says Dhar.

“You are really talking about a matter of 800 milliseconds, on average, like the top, top limit between when an ad impression gets initiated, meaning a web property is requesting an ad, to when an ad actually serves and renders on the page. The auction time is about 150 milliseconds. That leaves the actual buyer with tens of milliseconds to technically make a determination of, is this really what I want to pay for?”

“And unfortunately, in the ad tech space, I think somewhere between 70 and 80 per cent of bot filtering is all done in that auction environment, which is not real measurement.”

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