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No, TAG did not eliminate ad fraud

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A recent post on MediaPost asks the question: “Did TAG Just Kill Ad Fraud?” While we applaud the work of the Transparency Accountability Group and its Certified Against Fraud standard, we must respond that no, TAG did not kill ad fraud.

TAG has, more than any other organization, done more to protect advertisers from bot clicks, bad accounting, poor ad environments and outright bilking of advertisers. But that’s only one side of the multifaceted and insidious world of digital ad fraud.

What truly needs to be addressed it fraud’s effect on quality content publishers and, more importantly, consumers who are victimized to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Ads with malicious SWF files, mobile screen forced redirects and too-good-to-be-true offers of Amazon gift cards are vehicles for phishing, data capture and ultimately money laundering.

Their information is sold over darknet marketplaces and used in carding scams. People looking to check the morning news get dox’d without knowing it, then find their credit card has been used to buy ten gift cards in Georgia - which are resold to more unsuspecting consumers.

And all of this is too small to investigate criminally, because it’s a death of a thousand cuts. Local police don’t have the expertise to do much of anything about digital ad fraud, and it takes big numbers to get federal authorities involved. So while advertisers have the clout to demand reform, publishers rarely act in a unified voice to fight fraud - and recoup losses - while consumers are left with nothing more than the tiresome job of freezing yet another card for reasons unknown.

TAG does great work. It’s time to get serious about the real victims.

Rusty Coats