Should Marketers Keep Paying For Black Box Fraud Detection Vendors?

How Black Box Fraud Detection Tech is Actively Harming the Industry It may seem counterintuitive that I would be writing this article about how fraud detection or “ad verification” technologies actively harm the industry. After all, don’t I have such tech as well? Yes, I do have a tech […]

Fraud detection technologies use javascript code to collect data about the visitor to a webpage. Every tech platform has their own “secret sauce” for detecting fraud. They don’t want to tell you any details for fear of bad guys finding out and circumventing the detection. What they don’t realize is that the fraudsters are already bypassing their tech with ease. They don’t need to know the secret sauce because they can simply A-B test their bots and see which one gets through. Bad guys can get by undetected or they can actively trick the detection and send through fake values – like “viewable = yes.” So even if you see low fraud in the reports you get, it may not actually mean low fraud. Furthermore, digital ads shown in channels like mobile apps and streaming video are not well measured by these detection technologies, so they are likely missing more fraud than they are catching, as in this example in the slide below.

Having studied fraud for so long, I’ve even seen fake fraud detection tech companies, set up to rip off gullible advertisers and agencies. Why not, since none of these companies have to explain their secret sauce or show evidence the tech actually works, and few customers are technical enough to ask tough questions. Fake fraud detection companies can also make money selling their services. Since they are fraudsters, the first thing they do is get “certified,” so they can show off their certifications to get new customers. A few that I have seen over the years include 1) fraud detection companies set up by former and current fraudsters, 2) fraud detection company that sent out press release claiming to have caught a massive sports bot when there was none; they made it up for publicity, 3) a company that publishes indices with unknown data inputs, and 4) a fraud detection company claiming to use AI and ML when the founder didn’t even understand the mechanics of ad fraud, what to look for, or the financial motivation behind it. All I can do is SMH and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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