The Evolution of Advertising and The Race Against Ad Fraud

Jack Hall | April 19th, 2022

Where’s Advertising Going Next?

“The edifice of digital advertising is unstable and likely to collapse.” Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern.

Digital advertising is big business. Even after a dip during Covid-19 lockdowns, it accounts for nearly half of all US advertising spend, and a whopping 89% of that is spent on “programmatic” advertising, or ads bought by algorithms. 

But digital ad fraud is also big business – a potential $150 billion business by 2025 – that “fuels the digital criminal underground responsible for industrial espionage, ransomware, and identity theft,” Galloway says.

The unfortunate truth is that as new types of advertising opportunities are introduced, so are new kinds of ad fraud to exploit the inevitable loopholes. 

So as we move away from third-party data and into a new privacy-first world, what does the future of advertising, and ad fraud, look like? 

The Future of Digital Audio Advertising

In recent years, with the onset of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, voice search has been dominating the search sector. The convenience of not having to interrupt the prep for your chimichurri to ask how long a medium-rare steak takes to grill trumps unlocking a handheld device with garlicky fingers for a quick Google search (at least it does in my house).

Here are a few stats on the growth of voice search:

  • At least 40 percent of all internet users in the US and a third of its total population use voice search. eMarketer
  • 20% of voice search queries are triggered by a set of 25 keywords; question words like ‘how’ and ‘what’, or adjectives like ‘best’ and ‘easy’. – seoClarity
  • Voice is expected to be a $40 billion channel by 2022 – OC&C

With the purchases of smart speakers set to increase over the coming years, it’s easy to see how advertisers could utilize voice search to generate ad revenue. 

And it’s easy to see how it could be exploited by scammers, too.

We’ve already seen examples of infiltration in the audio world, with several fraudulent podcasts masquerading as popular programs on Spotify’s subsidiary podcast platform, Anchor. fm.

In addition, as audio formats begin to adopt the programmatic advertising model mentioned at the beginning of our article, the risk of ad fraud is likely to increase.

Advertising in the Metaverse

Whilst the potential of metaverse advertising is yet to be fully understood, what’s important to understand is that the metaverse is not just a trend. It’s here to stay. And marketers are already creating innovative ways to generate exposure for brands.

For example, people like collecting things. The metaverse is another space for them to do that. So brands are offering assets or limited-edition items that users can only collect in the metaverse.

Like this, from the Gucci Garden experience on Roblox:

Gucci Garden allowed people to collect limited Gucci items in Roblox.

This isn’t an article on metaverse advertising but you get the gist – the potential for advertisers to operate within VR settings is real, is happening now, and will continue to evolve long into the future. 

However, fraudsters have already had some success with blockchain, the basis of the metaverse currency. And, because of minimal regulation on certain platforms, they’re able to test out new fraudulent methods from a relatively ‘risk-free’ position.

What About Traditional Advertising?

With big things happening for the future of advertising, does that mean traditional, ‘out-of-home’ (OOH) advertising models, like billboards, are a thing of the past?

No.

Whilst it’s true that such models are facing challenges as a result of the development of technology, the fact is that consumers are tired of being constantly bombarded with ads on their devices, as shown by the moves big-tech is making towards a privacy-first world.

A survey from Nielsen found that 60% of millennial respondents “completely or somewhat” trust billboards, compared with 53% for social media ads and 48% for mobile ads, proving that traditional media still has an edge even amongst a generation thought immune to it.

Digital billboards are, like anything digital, also vulnerable to ad fraud, so it appears that the most traditional paper and wallpaper-paste billboards might be the only form of advertising that’s *touch wood* truly safe from scammers! 

Summary

As technology evolves, so does ad fraud. It’s not going away anytime soon. But there are ways to mitigate it.

PPC Protect uses machine learning to evaluate over 250 parameters to detect and mitigate sophisticated invalid traffic from your paid acquisition channels. Offering a centralized approach to mitigating ad fraud, marketers can leverage invalid data from one platform and block it across all paid media channels.

Get in touch today to find out how we tackle one of the internet’s biggest threats.

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