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Ads are for humans, not bots, say advertisers

Someday this may change… but, in 2016, when advertisers pay for online advertising, they still want actual humans to see those ads

Someday this may change… but, in 2016, when advertisers pay for online advertising, they still want actual humans to see those ads. Not bots. Or, as the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) puts it

Criminal organizations have attacked the digital ad ecosystem with malware that generates non-human traffic and defrauds legitimate participants… advertisers [pay] criminals who generate ad impressions that are never seen by humans.

The tab? $7.2 billion per year, according to the 2016 ANA/White Ops Bot Fraud study. Advertisers hate this and with the new TAG Certified Against Fraud Program, they’re fighting back.

TAG’s program aims to set rigorous anti-fraud requirements for buyers, sellers, and intermediaries throughout the digital advertising supply chain, and certify organizations that meet these standards.

As more participants join, advertisers can exert greater pressure on their partners to become certified, choose suppliers that do, and avoid those who don’t.

So, for example, participating advertisers and agencies must designate a compliance officer, and follow the Media Rating Council’s 30 pages of Invalid Traffic (IVT) Detection and Filtration Guidelines. MRC seeks to identify and independently audit organizations for a laundry list of invalid traffic, including:

…difficult to detect situations that require advanced analytics, multi-point corroboration/coordination, significant human intervention, etc., to analyze and identify.

The guidelines form a rather impressive document – but, as PC World notes, MRC still:

…counts an ad as viewable if as little as half of it appears on screen for as little as one second. It counts video ads as viewed as long as at least half the ad is visible and at least two seconds of video is played.

Advertising sellers such as ad networks, publishers, and their agents need to follow all the requirements that apply to buyers, and also filter against databases of data centers and domains known to originate fraudulent traffic. Plus, according to Advertising Age, applicants will soon have to undergo background checks:

Once approved, each will receive a unique ID that will identify its ads to trading partners… [identifiers] can also be matched with the payment ID system to verify that payments aren’t going to criminals.

Someone has to pay for all this infrastructure – according to AdAge, an advertising technology company might need to invest $20,000 per year to get and stay certified. Still, the program launches with more than 30 participants.

That includes huge ad agencies like Interpublic Group, Publicis Worldwide, Omnicom Group, and WPP; as well as global media companies such as News Corp and Yahoo – folks who can probably afford it. However, several big names are notable by their absence, according to PC Worldstep forward Google and Facebook.

TAG’s voluntary program probably won’t be foolproof. Still, advertisers have been easy marks in the “wild west” online advertising business for years, and those days seem to be ending.

The ways things are going, the fraudsters may need to become as creative as the advertisers they’re victimizing.


I really have a hard time feeling any sympathy whatsoever for these advertisers that continue to spread malware and serve up the ever-annoying video ads that choke from the ad-server and prevent the page I want to view from loading because their ad-server can’t keep up.


I’m like everyone else here. Robotic in your face ads being viewed by robotic audiences…. sorry I found that ironically hilarious. The ad companies always love saying how many billions they lost. Simple solution, just stop the annoying ads. I don’t even look at them so they aren’t losing money as they are wasting ads on me and their money. They say it keeps the web ‘free’. When I go to the cinema I pay for it and what’s before the film?.. ads. They’re everywhere and it doesn’t keep things free, beyond saturation point, and me and most people don’t even look at them. It’s the 30 second rubbish before the film starts that I talk to friends over until the film starts or web page loads. I only see good in robots viewing ads as it means the advertisers may actually have to rethink their ideas and make adverts people would actually want to look at. The last film I saw was Star Wars and remember it well, what all the ads were before it I have no idea. I guarantee no one will remember all the ads they saw last time they went to the cinema either. Far too many ads and it makes people switch off and ignore them. Adverts aren’t money makers in themselves, the product they are selling should be. When advertisers stop trying to monetise ads and actual advertise something I want may want I will look. Robots watching robotic adverts, sorry I just find it comedicaly ironic. I have no sympathy for advertisers, yours sincerely ad-block user :P


“When I go to the cinema I pay for it and what’s before the film?.. ads.”

You’re precisely on point with this. Jeepers, the first time I saw one of those cinema ads I got *so* irate–I’d love to aggressively noogie the guy who hatched that idea.**

I immediately said the only way this will stop is if millions of moviegoers boycott the theaters….so it’s never gonna happen.

We all like to be right, but dang.

** you just know he secretly takes pride in how clever he was but doesn’t likely admit it to many people. “I’m the guy who first proposed commercials at the film you already paid to see, LOL.”


In principle I like this quite a bit… SCUBA and skydiving organizations demonstrate how an industry can self-regulate, avoid government intervention, and still work toward a common goal.

This however is designed around a profit rather than a passion, and I wonder how well it will turn out for I. B. Web User. To build on [that’s what Shiny said], if all the ads were simply (a) non-malware and (b) touting something I *want* they’d be completely harmless. Heck if that came true I’d uninstall the ad blocker for more than just Naked Security.

Meanwhile, back in the real world… we cynics keep making their coffee and reading ad-free pages.


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