Uber’s relaunch of their case with Fetch Media where they sued the mobile agency for $40 million, accusing them of running fraudulent ads and falsely taking credit for app downloads, is a perfect example of the complex issues that the ad industry is facing in the war against ad fraud. 

Though brands literally pay the price in fraudulent advertising, it is a problem in which everyone involved in the supply chain would love to see a resolution. However, solutions to such complicated issues seem out of grasp, as the ad tech landscape is constantly evolving and advancing.

Similar to the challenges the sporting industry deals with when testing for drugs, fraudsters stay one step ahead of the technology capable of detecting fraud, and how we define fraud tomorrow will differ from how we define it today. Amidst such a dynamic environment, where does the fault lie, and who is responsible? Furthermore, since there are no governing bodies capable of monitoring, let alone addressing such issues, each player within the ecosystem is left to take its own action.

Of course, this is much easier said than done since the relationship between clients and agencies is not so straightforward. As with Fetch, most agencies partner with multiple third-party tech vendors where transparency and information exchange become convoluted. Though brands should educate themselves on issues such as ad fraud and how it impacts the entire supply chain and although we see an increasing number of brands handling their advertising in house, having a full comprehension would necessitate a level of expertise that makes hiring an agency obsolete.

Without some sort of enforceable policy or legislation, a solution is beyond our reach. In the interim, one must wonder if the level of ad fraud would decrease if brands didn’t set unrealistic expectations. What if they were willing to pay more per install rather than seeking the lowest CPM? Should brands assume there will always be some level of fraud and assign a cost instead of suing in an attempt to reduce wastage?

There is a need to educate both brands and agencies to establish a better framework to understand and monitor ad fraud in an attempt to avoid similar legal issues. This Uber case will set a precedent for future ad fraud lawsuits.

This thought leadership piece was written by Programmatic Committee Members Valerie Jacquet, Vice-President Programmatic Sales APAC, Unruly, and Zachary King, VP Commercial, Mediamath.