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Study: TAG Certification cuts Euro ad fraud 94%

January 8, 2019

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to fight criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain, has released the first analysis of the effectiveness of ongoing industry anti-fraud efforts in Europe. The study, conducted by The 614 Group, found the use of TAG Certified distribution channels for digital advertising reduced the level of fraud by more than 94 per cent from the broader industry average.

The study compared invalid traffic (IVT) rates in TAG Certified Channels against industry norms by measuring approximately four billion ad impressions from January-August 2018 from three major advertising agency holding companies across the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and The Netherlands. The results found a dramatic reduction in fraud rates across European markets from an industry average of 8.99 per cent to just .53 per cent when using TAG Certified Channels.

“Ad fraud is a global problem, and addressing it will require our industry to work together across national and regional borders,” commented Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “Happily, this study demonstrates that the industry has developed an effective and scalable solution, and Europe is leading the way. This study proves the effectiveness of TAG’s Certified Against Fraud Program in fighting fraud across European markets, both independently and through collaborative efforts like TAG’s partnership with JICWEBS in the UK. By continuing to adopt TAG’s rigorous anti-fraud standards, we can stop criminals who profit from ad fraud and ensure a safe and clean supply chain across the world.”

TAG first commissioned The 614 Group to conduct a benchmarking study of the US market to examine the effectiveness of the TAG Certified Against Fraud Program in December 2017, and it conducted and released a follow-up study with The 614 Group earlier this autumn. Both studies showed a dramatic reduction in fraud across TAG Certified Channels.

“This report answers the call for a clear fraud benchmark for the European market which will serve as a baseline for measuring progress for years to come,” stated Rob Rasko, CEO of The 614 Group and project lead on the research. “The results of this study will help us better quantify and understand the success of industry anti-fraud efforts. I’m elated with the level of participation from the industry and look forward to seeing continuing progress like we have made in working with TAG in continuing to help eliminate the issue of ad fraud across the European markets.”

TAG launched its Certified Against Fraud Program to combat invalid traffic in the digital advertising supply chain. Companies that are shown to comply with the Certified Against Fraud Guidelines are awarded the Certified Against Fraud Seal, which they can use to publicly communicate their commitment to combatting fraud. The Certified Against Fraud Program also provides companies a suite of anti-fraud tools to aid in compliance:

  • The Payment ID System creates a chain of custody for digital advertising transactions, helping companies to ensure that payments made in the digital ad ecosystem are going to legitimate partners.
  • The Data Center IP List is a common list of IP addresses with invalid traffic coming from data centers where human traffic is not expected to originate. TAG publishes this list on a monthly basis to assist companies in meeting the requirement in the Certified Against Fraud Guidelines that companies employ data center IP threat filtering across all of the monetisable transactions that they handle.
  • The Publisher Sourcing Disclosure Requirements (PSDR) foster trust in the marketplace by disclosing the amount of sourced traffic for a given publisher. This policy tool outlines the requirements for publishers to disclose the volume of traffic acquired through paid sources.
  • The Ads.txt Specification creates greater transparency in the inventory supply chain by creating a public record of Authorized Digital Sellers, giving publishers greater control over their inventory in the market, and making it harder for bad actors to profit from selling counterfeit inventory across the ecosystem.

In the UK, TAG has partnered with the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS), and they have jointly agreed to adopt the TAG Certified Against Fraud Program in the UK beginning January 1st, 2019.

Summary of European Fraud Benchmark Research

Countries Included UK, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands
Study Period January – December 2018
Inventory Type Desktop display, desktop video, mobile web display, mobile web video, in-app display, in-app video
Number of Impressions ~4 billion
Types of Fraud Examined General Invalid Traffic (GIVT)

Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT)

SIVT + GIVT Rate (TAG Channels Only) 0.53 per cent
Overall Fraud Rate (Blended Benchmark) 8.99 per cent
Reduction in Fraud 94.1 per cent
Agency Holding Companies Involved in Study Annalect (Omnicom Media Group), GroupM, Publicis Media


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