30 brands volunteer for ANA sting operation

Association of National Advertisers teams up with ad security specialists White Ops to produce benchmark report on cyber crooks and fraudsters

The Association of National Advertisers wants to catch fraudsters, and it’s recruited 30 brands to act as bait.

The initiative is a cooperate effort with ad security specialist White Ops, which claims it can differentiate bots from humans with a single line of code. Participating advertisers will ad White Ops’ tags to their all of their ads for the month of August.

Afterward the data will be collected for the ANA’s first benchmark report on fraud, which will break down exposure by platform (mobile, desktop), ad format (display, video, native) and buying method (publisher direct, network, exchange). White Ops promises to offer actionable recommendations for marketers looking to limit exposure.

Unlike ad verification companies, which in addition to fraud protection offer a range of services for auditing ad quality issues like brand safety and viewability, White Ops is only focused on security. Its founders include a fellow of a DARPA-funded cybersecurity lab, a former air force officer, and a 15-year cybersecurity veteran who’s one of the seven people in the world entrusted with a master key to the internet’s DNS infrastructure.

“The advertising industry is under siege,” said CEO Michael J. J. Tiffany in a release. “While some would say bot traffic is a ‘cost of doing business’ or a ‘victimless crime,’ they could not be more wrong. Corrupt data on campaign targeting and effectiveness harms brands and businesses, and the money made by criminals funds an underground that perpetrates many other forms of crime. Criminals have further benefitted from confusion and uncertainty in scoping the problem.”

In a followup interview with Media Post, Tiffany said, “The whole point of this study is to put some hard metrics on the problem, real metrics like where, when, and how much, so we can then do something about it… And we can definitely do something, because it’s not X percent of every dollar that’s lost, it’s 100% of particular dollars.”

Although the brands involved have not been identified, the ANA says they represent a broad range of sectors, including CPG, automotive, financial and retail.

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