New research conducted on hundreds of billions of online ads across the UK has found that just over one in ten – or 12.2% – are not legitimate.

The ‘Q2 2015 Media Quality Report’ from Integral Ad Science values the damage at £277 million per year for UK advertisers, and the rise in programmatic buying could see this figure go even higher beyond 2015.

It’s in the regular exchange and ad network environments where fraud is most commonly observed, according to the report, as 13.6% of impressions purchased through these models are deemed fake.

Direct buying is a little safer, but still sees 6.6% of its impressions being viewed by bots and other forms of technology, designed to extract money from advertisers. 

Are you being watched?

Being another hot topic alongside ad fraud, viewability – or the proportion of an ad in view – also sees direct buying touted as the best way to ensure a genuine audience.

An average rating of 55.4%, above the IAB guidelines of 50%, is the result of a 63.4% rating through publisher ad buys combined with 52.1% through networks and exchanges. 

It’s also interesting to see the rates of viewability and fraud for video, which are way below the average. Of course, having a lower rate for fraud is a positive, but a lower reading for viewability is not.

Fraud is a huge talking point in the advertising industry at present, leading a number of big brands to question how much of their spend goes to waste. 

Niall Hogan, Managing Director UK, Integral Ad Science comments: “Fraud is at the forefront of the media quality debate and when we see figures in the order of nearly £300m being siphoned off from ad budgets, we understand why advertisers like Unilever and Nestle are voicing concerns.”

Industry bodies like the IAB and JICWEBS have been vocal in declaring their opinions on fraud and viewability among other issues, but Hogan feels that companies could be doing more to address the problems at hand. 

“It is essential that we come together as an industry, through initiatives like the JICWEBS anti-fraud group, to educate and build advertiser confidence in the ways that we can address potential media quality issues.”