Cleaning Up the Digital Media Supply Chain

What Will Move the Industry Toward Transparency and Optimization?

About This Report
Programmatic supply chains are opaque, and advertisers don’t know much about where their spending ends up. That means they, and publishers, are losing out to fraud and the tech tax.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

For most advertisers, the supply chain for programmatic media is a black box. More than half of programmatic spending around the world went to the “tech tax” last year, according to Warc, and brands don’t have a clear view of exactly where all those fees go and why. And that’s before taking fraud into account. As ad dollars wend their way through the programmatic supply chain, they’re repeatedly exposed to the risk of bad actors. Advertisers and publishers hope for significant changes and efficiencies thanks to transparency, but that does not equal optimization. Measurement and analysis will be required to settle on better supply chains.

What is programmatic ad fraud?

Domain spoofing is probably the most common type of ad fraud, and involves the fraudulent party disguising its URL or domain as another (usually a higher-quality one). But other types of fraud exist thanks to the long, opaque supply chains of programmatic environments, including various types of video ad fraud where less-desirable display units are repackaged and arbitraged as high-CPM video ad units (for example, a 300x250 in-banner video ad being paraded as a full-screen pre-roll ad).

How can marketers avoid digital ad fraud?

Advertisers, along with other players in the programmatic ecosystem, are pushing for transparency to avoid wasting money on unnecessary fees and fraudulent impressions. New real-time bidding (RTB) protocols, blockchain-based solutions and in-housing of programmatic trading are all getting attention in this fight.

Why is it so hard to detect ad fraud?

The No. 1 challenge of addressing ad quality issues is tracking down bad actors in the supply chain, according to January 2018 research by ad intelligence firm Ad Lightning, with nearly six in 10 ad operations professionals in the US naming it a significant problem. Ad tech is also unable to scan every ad to identify issues or is unable to block bad ads.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores the current state of the programmatic media supply chain, why advertisers are concerned about fees and fraud, and what the ecosystem as a whole is doing about it.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. The State of the Supply Chain for Digital Advertising
  3. Why Drain the Swamp?
  4. Moves Toward Transparency
  1. So Your Supply Chain Is Transparent
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Brian Wong
Founder and CEO
Interviewed July 2, 2018
Ken Brook
Founder and CEO
Interviewed March 19, 2018
Richard Bush
Interviewed March 22, 2018
Daniel Gouldman
Interviewed April 9, 2018
Adam Helfgott
Mad Network
Interviewed April 16, 2018
Christiana Cacciapuoti
Founding Member
Interviewed April 16, 2018
Shailin Dhar
Method Media Intelligence
Co-Founder and Director, Research
Interviewed June 15, 2018
Ian Kane
Interviewed April 9, 2018
Walter Knapp
Interviewed March 12, 2018
Will Luttrell
Amino Payments
Founder and CEO
Interviewed March 15, 2018
John Potter
Chief Technology Officer
Interviewed March 19, 2018
Babs Rangaiah
Executive Partner, Global Marketing
Interviewed March 21, 2018
Maor Sadra
Managing Director, Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed April 5, 2018
Ryan Johnston
Media Buyer and Supply Analyst
Interviewed July 3, 2018
Joey Leichman
Senior Director, Buyer Development
Interviewed July 3, 2018
Radhika Marini
Media Capabilities
Interviewed June 22, 2018
Neal Richter
Rakuten Marketing
Chief Technology Officer
Interviewed March 23, 2018
Mario Schiappacasse
Head of Display and RTB
Interviewed July 3, 2018
Paul Silver
Media iQ Digital
Interviewed March 22, 2018
Travis Smith
Director, Global Media Center of Excellence
Interviewed June 29, 2018
Dennis Yurkevich
Media iQ Digital
Associate Director, Product Development
Interviewed March 22, 2018

Read This With Insider Intelligence


Nicole Perrin


Caroline Cakebread
Junior Analyst
Rahul Chadha
Director, Report Editing
Lauren Fisher
Principal Analyst
Tracy Tang
Senior Researcher