Digital Ad Fraud 2020

Illuminating the Supply Chain

Executive Summary

Digital ad fraud is still a major problem for programmatic advertisers and their partners throughout the supply chain. Education and awareness have improved, along with detection. Efforts to continue to expose more of the programmatic supply chain are making a difference, but there are still risky pockets of supply and other vulnerabilities.

How much money are advertisers (still) losing to digital display fraud?

Fraud detection is difficult enough; estimating the dollar value of losses to fraud involves enough unknowns that estimates vary wildly. But the most optimistic outlooks still suggest advertisers will lose billions this year.

What digital channels are the riskiest in terms of ad fraud?

As in recent years, mobile in-app inventory remains relatively prone to fraud due to challenges in detection and in-app measurement. Connected TV (CTV) advertising is also risky due to fragmentation plus high demand and low legitimate supply relative to that demand.

How are advertisers and partners working to clean up the digital display ecosystem?

Using antifraud verification services is a best practice, but industrywide moves like the introduction of ads.txt years ago and app-ads.txt more recently have notably disrupted fraudsters. Trade bodies and coalitions of ad tech firms will continue with similar initiatives to help bring programmatic to a more mature “v2.0” with less—or at least different—ad fraud.

What other types of fraud should marketers be aware of?

Influencer fraud is likely on the radar of every brand involved in influencer marketing. Attribution fraud is also a problem.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes updated benchmarks for invalid traffic (IVT) and other types of digital ad fraud, along with analysis of best practices in mitigating and preventing it.

KEY STAT: More than one in three US digital media professionals surveyed in December 2019 by verification firm Integral Ad Science (IAS) cited increasing levels of ad fraud as a programmatic challenge.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Digital Display Ad Fraud
  3. Cleaning Up Digital Display Fraud: Buy- and Sell-Side Platforms Deploy Added Efforts
  4. Other Digital Ad Fraud
  1. The Future of Fraud
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Appendix: Glossary
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Rachel Adams
Head of Media Activation, US
Interviewed January 17, 2020
Christiana Cacciapuoti
Executive Director
Interviewed January 14, 2020
Kirtarath Dhillon
Manager, Digital Marketing and Marketing Analytics
Interviewed January 24, 2020
Katie Evans
Interviewed January 7, 2020
Dr. Augustine Fou
Marketing Science Consulting Group Inc.
Founder and CEO
Interviewed December 31, 2019
Nick Frizzell
Vice President, Inventory Quality and Planning
Interviewed January 9, 2020
Adam Helfgott
Interviewed January 15, 2020
Ryan Johnston
Supply Analyst and Media Buyer
Interviewed January 17, 2020
David Kohl
President and CEO
Interviewed January 14, 2020
Mark Kopera
Moat by Oracle Data Cloud
Head of Products
Interviewed January 15, 2020
Ari Lewine
Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer
Interviewed January 14, 2020
Will Luttrell
Amino Payments
Founder and CEO
Interviewed January 14, 2020
Jalal Nasir
Interviewed January 23, 2020
Jasper Radeke
Senior Director, Marketing, North America
Interviewed January 27, 2020
Roy Rosenfeld
Senior Vice President of Product
Interviewed November 18, 2019
Mario Schiappacasse
Vice President of Programmatic Media
Interviewed January 17, 2020
Tim Sims
The Trade Desk
Senior Vice President of Inventory Partnerships
Interviewed January 13, 2020
Michael Tiffany
White Ops
Co-Founder and President
Interviewed January 13, 2020
Trace Rutland
Ocean Spray Cranberries
Digital Hub Director
Interviewed January 16, 2020
Evgeny Shmelkov
Integral Ad Science (IAS)
Director of Data Science
Interviewed January 13, 2020

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Nicole Perrin


Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Lauren Fisher
Principal Analyst
Tracy Tang
Senior Researcher
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst

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