What’s bugging digital advertisers?
According to Victor Malachard, whose commentary on the topic appeared at Fourth Source, it’s fraud.
Among the concerns “for all players in the digital advertising ecosystem, and quite rightly, too, is fraud, in which non-human clicks and impressions drain advertising budgets rather than reaching the right audiences,” Malachard writes.
Whether it can be stopped or not is … well, doubtful.
“First, let’s be realistic: no one can entirely stop or prevent fraud,” Malachard argues. “It’s an unfortunate fact but one we have to face up to. Banks have to combat it, governments have to deal with it, and increasingly we as individuals are becoming more aware of the importance of protecting our identities, as social media and cloud-based services grow.”
But Malachard thinks programmatic advertising for mobile has some characteristics that “render it less susceptible to fraud than its desktop cousin.”
“Firstly, desktop advertising is heavily dependent on third-party cookies,” he says. “These are what enable one website to display ads according to your activities on another, so for example if you were looking for white shirts on the John Lewis website, you might see an ad for the self-same shirts on the Guardian website.”
There is — thank the digital heavens — scant interest in third-party cookies in mobile.
“This is why mobile has had to develop smart ways around the cookie issue, involving taking data from several sources which together build a profile of a user: the user’s device – that is, what make and model; the user’s platform, such as Android or iOS; and exchange data about the publisher and advertiser,” Malachard advises. “We can bring this data together to form a unique and anonymous user ID, which we then cross-reference whenever a user wants to see a page. If the ID has been exposed to an ad before, we can retarget, positively or negatively.”
Then, there are the “software police.”
“And mobile also has ‘software police’, which are the app stores,” Malachard explains. “If you’ve ever downloaded software from a website which also slips some malware onto your PC, you’ll know how careful you need to be with desktop. One variant of this is the stealthware that means a web window will suddenly pop up and then disappear again: it’s actually registering a false click or a page view for an ad to artificially boost a publisher’s earnings. But if you ensure that you always download apps from the official app stores, you can be assured that it’s gone through stringent approval policies and on-going monitoring from the ‘police’. It’s a much healthier ecosystem generally than desktop because of this degree of centralization.”
The whole issue, says Malachard, is one he says he’ll be watching as time goes on. In the meantime, you can read his whole commentary here.