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Bots Google Rubicon Project

Google, Facebook and Yahoo unite to erect ‘strong defence’ against bots


By Seb Joseph, News editor

July 21, 2015 | 3 min read

Google, Facebook and Yahoo are among a group of digital players sharing information on bot fraud with each other through a joint initiative formed to curb non-human traffic.

The online media owners are joined by peers from the ad tech sector including Distillery, MediaMath, Quantcast, Rubicon Project, The Trade Desk, and TubeMogul in sharing their own internal blacklists and intelligence on data centres driving the fraud problem.

The union is the latest phase of action from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) industry initiative to improve the quality of online inventory.

Insights from the pooled blacklists will be used to help TAG build a robust resource for the industry., with Google the first to actually open up its list, which will serve as the kernel for the broader initiative.

With digital marketing budgets on the up globally marketers under pressure to sweat their media budgets harder, with bot fraud frequently cited by many brands as a key reason for wasted online ad spend.

Data traffic centres – or large networks of servers - have emerged as one of the key sources of bots, an issue TAG attempted to address earlier this year with its Fraud Threat List, through which companies share web domains identified as particularly large sources of fraudulent traffic.

Members from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and America’s Association of National Advertisers have urged the industry to see bots as more than just a viewability issue in order to ensure their ads react actual people.

“Tackling ad fraud will require everyone in the industry to take an active role,” said Neal Mohan, vice president of video and display advertising products for Google.

The alliance is one of the industry’s early steps to limiting illegitimate inventory and reflects media owners’ wider efforts to protect the value of their inventory in response to advertisers become more wary of where and how they buy their media.

“We’re excited by the collaborative spirit we’ve seen during the launch of this initiative and look forward to working with everyone in the ecosystem to remove fraud from advertising,” added Mohan.

For the likes of Google, bots are fast emerging as a dampener on the ad rates it charges advertisers, while also causing some to doubt certain aspects of its inventory. In May, Google used a blacklist on its Doubleclick Campaign Manager, which was able to filter 8.9 per cent of all clicks (see above). Without filtering these clicks from campaign metrics, advertiser click-through rates would have been incorrect and for some advertisers this error would have been very large, Google said in a blog post.

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