On 1 January, Forbes hosted an interesting end enlightening article about digital advertising involving “international tax evasion, organized crime, funding of terrorists and hate groups, and the concept of vertically integrated bad guys”. It says that in the modern world advertisers do not interact with any of millions of sites and apps; they just buy ads through one place, the ad exchange. B y disconnecting the buyer from the seller, programmatic ad exchanges introduced murkiness — the lack of transparency — into the digital advertising ecosystem. This, it is said, has led directly to much greater opportunity for fraud and other crimes. It says that fraud affects everyone from the advertisers, to the publishers, to consumers. Bad guys set up fake websites, copy and paste some ad tech code onto the sites, and start selling billions of impressions. Prior to the arrival of ad tech (“advertising tech”) fraudsters could never sell ads to the biggest brand advertisers like P&G, Unilever, Coca Cola, etc. Now every manner of bad guys can sell ads to the biggest advertisers that spend billions in digital advertising, and divert those ad dollars into their own pockets under false pretences. Fraudsters’ sites have no real human visitors because no one has ever heard of them – so those fake sites “source” 100% of their traffic, from bots. Bots can generate as many pageviews as desired and can create billions of ad impressions out of thin air, without needing any real human audiences. It is said that the practice of ad fraud is so profitable, that other tools, technologies, and techniques are brought to bear to do more ad fraud and make more money.
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