Ad fraud is often described as a cat-and-mouse game, with networks’ best efforts at detection a few short steps behind bad actors’ best efforts at defrauding customers and advertisers without getting caught. (And those mice are eating a lot of cheese.

Last year, the ad verification company Adloox predicted ad fraud could cost advertisers $16.4 billion in 2017—or about 20.5 percent of total global digital ad spend.) Consider Facebook, a leader in both advertising and sophisticated research and deployment of AI. The company last fall increased its team fighting ad fraud, combining 1,000 workers, including engineers, managers, human reviewers as well as local language and culture experts, with multiple means of algorithmic detection to catch common types of fraud.

Facebook’s ad fraud team primarily focuses on Facebook’s end-user experience, which pushes the unit towards prioritizing fraud that affects users: scams, nuisance ads, web page spoofing and clickbait. “We have over six million advertisers,” said Rob Leathern, Facebook’s product management director. “Most of them are well meaning, but there are a small number of fraudsters who put in a lot of time to get around or game our system.” But critics say Facebook could do more.

Even though Facebook and Google are using sophisticated AI to improve their fraud detection processes, Joe Barone, managing partner of digital ad operations at GroupM, wants them to “expand their nascent relationships with third-party measurement providers to increase the level of transparency and maximize the assurance and trust required to support continued investment.” In the next few months, Facebook will also overhaul its advertising measurement system to wean marketers off vanity metrics in favor of more business objectives. The social network announced it’s removing nearly two dozen different metrics in July—including action, time spent, button click and more. And while these updates don’t improve fraud directly, the move could increase transparency on the platform.

Publishers say Facebook isn’t fixing the problem fast enough. Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, said Facebook, Twitter and Google should collectively combat the problem—otherwise, smaller players in the ad-tech world would be competing on a different level than those who already have a near monopoly. Read more from…

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