Over the last few weeks, we’ve considered a number of issues related to digital ad fraud, including how easy it is to create bots, how hard they are to detect, and how prevalent they’ve become on medical websites. Today, in the fifth blog in our “Pharma and Digital Ad Fraud” series, we’ll explore some proven techniques for safeguarding your digital marketing campaigns.
My Oncology Tomorrow experiment demonstrated how simple and inexpensive it is for cybercriminals to steal ad revenue from medical websites. For less than $200, I created a fake publishing platform, flooded it with bots, and generated $312 in first-month revenues.
I used simple bot technologies and just one website. When you multiply these results by hundreds of websites and throw in more sophisticated bots, it’s easy to see how cybercriminals can make a fortune on medical media properties. Taking the following precautions will help prevent this from happening to you.
Buy From Reputable Media Platforms
Oncology Tomorrow proved that it’s easy to steal ad revenue, but that doesn’t mean all publishers are doing it. We have no evidence that they are. In fact, we know that large, reputable publishers and ad exchanges are working hard to make sure the content they create is relevant and valuable to physicians.
When your digital ad analytics look too good to be true, they probably are.
This is extremely difficult work that requires constant vigilance, but legitimate media properties are committed to investing the time and money necessary to make it successful. One of the best ways to protect your advertising investment is to buy ad space from these sources first. Though you may get fewer impressions, your viewers will be human. In the end, your ads will generate higher ROI.
Ask Your Media Buyer Hard Questions
Regardless of who you buy ad space from, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your analytics. If any of your numbers look too good to be true, they probably are. For example, if you’re offered high-value rheumatologist or oncologist views on the cheap, you should expect that traffic to be non-human. Likewise, if your viewability or impression numbers are sky-high, assume at least some of those views are bot-generated.
When you see alarming numbers, it’s time to start asking your ad exchange hard questions. Ask them to name the publishers and other properties they buy inventory from—and don’t let them off the hook with a list of just the top five. Instead, insist on seeing the long-tail, where digital fraud is almost always hidden.
It’s well known that non-transparent business practices, like providing cash rebates to media agencies, are pervasive across digital ad buying. So it’s important to ask for line item details, not just averages, when evaluating ad purchases and results.
Verify Your Audience
Verifying audience interactions at every point of the digital journey is also essential. When you know the categories of medical websites and content your target physicians view across our digital medical ecosystem, you can make informed decisions about when and where to place ads. Next week we’ll take a closer look at the audience identity management technology that makes this possible.