OpenX Blog

Suspicious Traffic Significantly Reduced but Fight Continues

integral ad science

Here’s a bright spot for a snow-filled winter: According to Integral Ad Science, suspicious digital ad traffic fell from 30% in the fourth quarter of 2012, to just 13% one year later.

The decline was driven in part by “an increased understanding around bot activity and behavior and the use of technology to monitor and block suspicious activity.”

On the technology front, Integral Ad Science’s CEO Scott Knoll explains that his company’s system can detect a bot in real time and remove it before an ad is served, no doubt boosting the confidence of advertisers everywhere.

Still, as Robert Hof points out in Forbes magazine, 13% is still a lot in absolute terms. Part of that 13% is inevitable, Mr. Knoll believes, since combating fraud is a constant game of cat and mouse. Our own John Murphy, VP Marketplace Quality for OpenX agrees, noted that as soon as his Traffic Quality team shuts down a site, the fraudsters behind it put up another.

While we may never reach 0% bot traffic, we shouldn’t be satisfied with with 13% either. We at OpenX take the matter seriously and the numbers prove it. Integral Ad Science analyzed OpenX traffic and found we scored substantially better than the industry average (less than 1% had brand-safety issues, and just 8% was suspicious).

Why does our traffic quality exceed the industry? Simple: we don’t assume traffic quality is someone else’s responsibility – the buck stops here.

Since we feel absolutely responsible for preventing fraud, we built a multi-pronged approach to traffic quality. For instance, we have a dedicated Traffic Quality team of PhD-holding statisticians and data scientists who analyze traffic in real time. We also have stringent policies as to who can gain entry to our marketplace, and technologies that filter all traffic.

Our point isn’t to beat our chest, but to illustrate that everyone has a role in preventing fraud, including publishers and advertisers. In fact, the IAB’s Traffic of Good Intent taskforce is close to issuing its final Best Practices – Traffic Fraud: Reducing Risks to Exposure that spells out the role each player should take – and buyers shoulder no small part of the responsibility.

We agree with the IAB when it says “addressing the issue together as an industry is essential to preserving the integrity of the online ecosystem and for maintaining trust from marketers.” If we want to see fraud go down to just 6% of traffic in Q4 2014, then we all need to pitch in to solve the problem.