Digital Ad Industry Will Gain $8.2 Billion by Eliminating Fraud and Flaws in Internet Supply Chain, IAB & EY Study Shows

Independent Research Estimates Cost of Ad Fraud, Infringed Content & Malvertising in the U.S.

NEW YORK – Fraudulent impressions, infringed content and malvertising cost the U.S. digital marketing, advertising, and media industry $8.2 billion annually. That money can be recouped if companies fix badly designed business processes and repair obvious flaws in the digital advertising supply chain, a new study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and EY shows.

“To help the industry reclaim some of the $8.2 billion in costs, EY believes that improving some fundamental business practices is critical”

The report, “What Is An Untrustworthy Supply Chain Costing the Digital Advertising Industry?”, was conducted independently by EY and released today by the IAB. Strategic advisory firm MediaLink collaborated with the IAB and EY to design the scope of this study. According to the research, more than half the money wasted in the digital advertising ecosystem derives from “non-human traffic” – fake advertising impressions that are neither generated by real advertisers nor received by actual consumers. Eliminating these fraudulent impressions would save advertisers more than $4 billion annually.

“No other report in the market today captures the full range and scope of the illicit activities identified and quantified in this study,” said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics and Measurement, IAB. “Its findings should mobilize the entire ecosystem to rally around collective solutions that will protect businesses and consumers.”

The study identified three primary supply chain costs. They are:

  • Invalid Traffic – As described above, ad fraud accounts for the largest portion of costs, at a total of $4.6 billion. Seventy-two percent of the loss associated with the web’s fraudulent traffic happens on desktops and 28 percent on mobile.
  • Infringed Content – At $2.4 billion, infringed content – stolen video programming, music, and other editorial content that is illegally distributed on the web – represents the most significant share of lost revenue opportunity costs. Two billion dollars of that total is based on an estimate of approximately 21 million U.S. consumers’ willingness to spend $8 per month on what is currently classified as infringed content. The additional $456 million represents the loss of potential advertising dollars. The findings show that unless the industry takes significant steps, there is a likelihood that the number of people consuming stolen content on digital platforms will increase.
  • Malvertising-Related Activities – Combating malware-related activities, which can expose web users to unknown or potentially dangerous third parties, comes in at $1.1 billion, with $781 million of those losses being generated from ad blocking instigated due to security and malware concerns. Costs associated with investigating, remediating, and documenting direct incidents of malicious advertising total $204 million.

“To help the industry reclaim some of the $8.2 billion in costs, EY believes that improving some fundamental business practices is critical,” said Nick Terlizzi, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP and a member of its EY Media & Entertainment Advisory Services. “Some basics include knowing your supply chain partners and investigating new potential relationships using address information, tax IDs, and background checks.”

The report also features guidance in eliminating supply chain corruption in digital advertising, and encouraging industry-wide collaboration to build a trustworthy supply chain under the auspices of The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and other initiatives.

“TAG was established to fight corruption and criminal activity across the digital supply chain,” said Mike Zaneis, President and CEO, TAG. “The creation of an evergreen marketplace of trusted business partners will deliver billions of dollars of value to advertisers.”

“Fraud is a big business, not a cottage industry, so we applaud the IAB for their unwavering support and dedication to surfacing these dynamic issues to all constituencies within the advertising community,” said Wenda Harris Millard, President and COO, MediaLink. “We must remain wholly focused on bringing this conversation to the forefront and developing systematic ways of eradicating this activity, enabling both publishers and marketers alike to thrive in this new age.”

AppNexus, MediaMath, and Rocket Fuel Inc. are the premier sponsors of the report. Participating sponsors are Xaxis, PubMatic, and YuMe. Supporting sponsors include OpenX, Pulsepoint, and Videology.

To download the complete study, please go to


The research methodology for the study included: (a) study of studies — assessing a number of studies that other organizations have conducted in the relevant supply chain area to estimate certain costs; (b) voice of the industry — 30 companies completed a 13-page questionnaire for purposes of providing qualitative and quantitative data; and (c) data analytics — for several supply chain areas data was obtained directly from outside organizations to estimate certain costs.

About MediaLink

Founded in 2003 by Michael Kassan, MediaLink provides strategic advisory and implementation services to companies at the convergence of media, marketing, advertising, entertainment and technology. In addition to developing, refining and executing strategies that drive competitive advantage and business acceleration for its partners, the company has diversified its product suite to include executive search, conference programming and event production. MediaLink’s clients are companies in the Fortune 500; media, entertainment and emerging technology companies; and private equity and venture capital firms. MediaLink employs 100+ professionals in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services: “The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.” EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit Ernst & Young LLP is a client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited operating in the US.

About the IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the IAB develops technical standards and best practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. The organization is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a West Coast office in San Francisco.

via BusinessWire