In a move to fight online ad fraud, the UK’s Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) has published Good Practice Principles, a guide companies can be audited against to ensure their processes mitigate the risk of a scam ad being published.

These include ad tech groups and agencies, as well as the publishers serving ads to their user base.

The guidelines arrive in the same week as a report from Integral Ad Science, revealing that ad fraud in the UK is dropping and online media quality in Q1 showed an overall improvement on last year.

Fighting fraud

According to research conducted by the Association of National Advertisers published earlier this year, advertisers will lose $7.2 billion to ad fraud, up from $6.3 billion in 2015.

To tackle the issue, JICWEBS, an independent body defining best practice and standards for online ad trading, is taking things to the next level.

The principles of its guidelines have their roots in the committee’s ‘Taxonomy’ report from 2015 which describes different types of online ad fraud and a set of best practices to mitigate the risk. They cover fraud education and policies, ad inventory sources and setting the right campaign ROI, as well as approved anti-fraud tech and vendors.

Richard Foan, chairman at JICWEBS, described the proposed regulations as “vital” in the fight against ad fraud.

“This latest initiative supports those who are serious about doing something to minimise the effect of fraud across our industry. It will also complement the upcoming initiative to deliver increased transparency about different fraud detection across suppliers,” he said.

The publishers, agencies and tech providers able to demonstrate their processes apply JICWEBS’ principles will be granted a certification seal, with the first ones expected to be issued in Q4.

A separate set of principles will also be released for ad verification suppliers that provide solutions to disclose and mitigate fraud.

Decluttering the industry

Although numbers show ad fraud is a global problem growing year on year, the UK seems to be an exception. Integral Ad Science reveals that the rates of ad fraud in Q1 of this year were at a rate lower than any seen in the same period last year.

Having analysed hundreds of billions of views, the group found fraud rates, understood as views identified with suspicious or bot activity, to be at 5% and the numbers for brand risk, which are ad impressions adjacent to content that poses a big risk to a brand image, at 7%.

With low fraud risk, the online media quality in Q1 has improved too, with viewability rates hitting 57%.

Niall Hogan, UK managing director & strategic development for EMEA at Integral Ad Science, believes the work undertaken by UK industry bodies truly do help in raising awareness around media quality issues.

“Our data-rich and transparent analytics help advertisers, agencies, publishers and our technology partners utilise media quality data intelligence to mitigate ad fraud, risk to brand advertising and improve viewability rates in their digital media strategies,” he said.

To aid a further clean up, Integral Ad Science has also introduced Ad Clutter, a new type of metric reflecting whether ad views were detected on particularly cluttered web pages, with six or more ads shown on a site.

Preliminary data has shown that only 3.2% of views in the first quarter this year followed the trend.

Last year, we reported ad fraud potentially becoming a very expensive problem for the space, although the steps undertaken by British industry bodies seem to be taking things in the right direction.