'More robots than humans' saw Mercedes-Benz ad

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Online ads for Mercedes were seen more often by fraudster robots than humans, according to a new report. The Financial Times reports that the Mercedes-Benz ads were accidentally placed on to fraudulent websites by Rocket Fuel, a Nasdaq-listed ad technology company that went public with a market capitalisation of nearly $1bn last year. According to Telemetry, a UK company which specialises in detecting ad fraud, in a sample of 365,000 ad impressions brokered by Rocket Fuel over three weeks, 57 per cent were “viewed” by automated computer programs rather than real people. The allegation will raise concerns about fraud in the fast-growing online advertising market, which expanded 15% last year to $120bn.


Andrew Goode, COO of ad tech provider Project Sunblock, comments on why advertisers will continue to be victims of fraud if they don’t take control of their ads: “This is a unfortunate case for Mercedes, but it is far from alone in its fight against the advertising botnets. Complex computer programmes are preying on big advertising budgets as marketers flock online in order to increase brand visibility. So much so, that industry bodies now predict that at least a third of all online traffic is generated by robots.

“The issue is that there is a real lack of visibility and transparency around where digital ads end up once they’re fed into industry ad exchanges. These ad exchanges deal with the buy and sell of ad impressions, but they themselves have no commitment or ability to identify and weed out fraudulent publishers, and so the robots go on undetected. Nearly four in five (78%) UK advertisers have no insight into how many of their ad impressions could be fraudulent, despite relatively broad awareness of the issue of bot traffic. This needs to change if the industry is to turn the tables on the botnets. The onus is on the brands themselves to act, not their advertising agencies or ad exchanges.”

Read the FT report here

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