“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.”