LaQuinta Only Paying For Human Traffic In 2015 IOs

Amy Bartle LaQuintaAll of La Quinta Inns & Suites’ 2015 insertion orders specify that it will pay for human traffic only.

“As a brand that strives to do the most with our resources, and as a challenger brand in the space, it matters when our media dollars aren’t going to real people,” La Quinta director of media and digital marketing Amy Bartle said. “Viewability has been the poster child of 2015, and I would argue that viewability is not our first concern. I believe bot fraud, the serving of ads to non-human people, is really the biggest issue.”

The IOs called out La Quinta’s fraud vendor and explained that it would add tags to its creative and pay on human traffic only. The agency and publisher have access to the bot traffic numbers in real time.

The hotel brand made the switch after participating in the ANA/White Ops study last fall, which showed that 11% of display impressions, 18% of programmatic impressions and 23% of video impressions came from non-human traffic.

With increased investment in video, Bartle saw addressing fraud as the smartest decision she could make for the brand. But video has also been the hardest medium to implement anti-fraud solutions.

“The video tags in existence aren’t flexible enough to work on every brand and video player out there,” Bartle said.

Bartle believes La Quinta saw lower-than-average levels of fraud because of measures it had already put in place. “I had always approached digital inventory from a measured and quality perspective. I never run video banners and don’t run autoplay. It doesn’t protect you from fraud, but it keeps you in an environment where there is less of it.”

But Bartle didn’t consider those measures to be enough and decided that La Quinta needed to bring in an anti-fraud vendor.

“The fact that the bots are so sophisticated and adaptable and smart, it’s not a ‘once saved, always saved’” situation, Bartle said.

Fraud exists on Alexa top-1,000 sites, so sticking with premium publishers won’t work either. “It’s not the private marketplace that will keep you safe, it’s the private marketplace that’s governed by the anti-fraud tags,” Bartle said.

She’s even seen different results for the same inventory bought through a different mechanism. Exchange-bought inventory on a publisher’s site contained more fraudulent traffic than inventory bought directly.

She hopes additional standardization will occur.

“One of the things that will have to happen before we get to point of rigorous or structured standards is for the ad fraud companies to get MRC accreditation. To my knowledge, none of them have gotten accredited,” Bartle said. (AdExchanger reached out to the MRC, which said it expects a draft of its guidelines to begin circulating in the second quarter of this year. It expects several anti-fraud vendors to seek accreditation once guidelines are established.)

Ad fraud poses a problem that, not tackled now, stands to only get bigger.

“Talking about programmatic TV and over-the-top TV, that’s putting TV dollars in the same ecosystem where we’re having difficulties today,” Bartle said. “That shift in money will continue the call to criminality.”

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  1. This isn’t really anything new, any client/agency working with an Ad Verification is not paying for Fraud impressions, since they are filtered out before the creative is shown, hence no banner renders and it is not counted by them.

  2. Thank you for the contribution Amy and sharing your results of the audit. I think a lot of these fraudulent non-human traffic can be alleviated by CPC rather than CPM. This is why we make CPC and first-party data available to our clients.