Join Anti-Fraud Initiatives

You have optimised your platform UX, gained a foothold in every suitable channel, moved up in search results, and attracted new traffic, what’s next? First of all, keep it up! The next step is to weed out invalid traffic, especially if you’re selling inventory through an open auction.

A few dishonest players bring the lion’s share of low-quality traffic, so they need to be blocked from your inventory. Luckily, there are IAB initiatives in place to help:

  • ads.txt and app-ads.txt are whitelists of vendors and resellers eligible to sell publisher’s inventory.
    These lists help the buyer verify inventory authenticity and prevent domain spoofing and redirects. The method is not flawless but quite sufficient.
  • Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) is an organisation that certifies companies that have proven their compliance with the anti-fraud standards.
    This community trains its members regularly to protect their businesses from malvertisement, and recertify them each year. TAG membership can be considered a guarantee that a partner’s volume of invalid traffic remains within a range of a statistical error. Which, besides implying high-quality inventory, is also a nice bonus to one’s reputation.
  • sellers.json is a file that reveals the last inventory seller in the chain, and the OpenRTB SupplyChain object – the list of all sellers who participated in the auction.
    While in ads.txt the publisher lists all partners authorised to sell their inventory per se, the SupplyChain object records the actual sellers chain the buyer’s specific bid has passed through. Thus, the advertiser can learn how many resales there were and spot unreliable chain links.

And these initiatives are worth keeping in mind for the future:

  • The Ad Management API is a tool in the new OpenRTB 3.0 framework that allows publishers to validate ad creatives before they land on the page.
    The API can detect and block creatives with inappropriate content, wrong sizes or formats, malicious links, etc. Malvertisement will not get to the website, and reliable advertisers will quickly be notified that they need to fix their creatives.
  • Ads.cert: Signed Bid Requests is another OpenRTB 3.0 specification that publishers can use to sign their inventory.
    The file contains encrypted domain, publisher IP, and inventory parameters. If the advertiser receives a request mismatching the signature data, they will know that someone in the chain has tampered with the inventory.

Ad Quality vendors filter out invalid traffic that still leaked through into the publisher’s platform. These are the characteristics of the qualified partner:

  1. Creatives blocking:

    • the vendor supports real-time scanning and blocking;
    • blocked creative can be re-auctioned;
    • you can check which creative was blocked and why;
    • reports are detailed.
  2. Solution integration:

    • it is easy and fast to integrate into your stack, add and change scripts;
    • integration causes no issues with platform’s UX, loading speed, latency;
    • integration does not affect STR, viewability.
  3. Up-to-date stack:

    • what tools and standards the vendor uses;
    • whether they collaborate with networks and communities, participate in initiatives and conferences.

You create content, build a loyal audience, look for ways to attract new readers, and advance your platform. By protecting your ad network from scammers, you will prevent them from stealing your hard-earned and well-deserved reward. On top of that, inventory of a trusted publisher is more valuable and expensive.

Svetlana Petryanina
Svetlana Petryanina

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