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Combatting Fraudulent Traffic for Better Campaign Health: Q&A with Rich Kahn, eZanga

Fraudulent traffic has been around for ages, and continues to be perpetuated with the growth of online advertising. As Rich Kahn (pictured below), CEO, eZanga explains, advertisers need continued education and technology to tackle this neverending problem and eliminate this issue to improve performance.

ExchangeWire: eZanga’s Anura has been a long time in the making, what were the driving factors for the development of this platform?

Rich Kahn: eZanga started as an advertiser buying traffic, but what we were buying wasn’t performing the way we expected. In response to this behaviour, we started developing code to monitor the traffic. That was 12 years ago, and was developed overtime for our own use, and for our direct clients.

Watching others release solutions, we wanted to find out how we stacked up against the competition. We ran a year-long study and determined we were noticeably more accurate when it came to true performance. Based on that, we came to market with the Anura platform, complete with an analytics package that measures true performance of the actual user.

What are the biggest challenges advertisers face because of ad fraud and bad traffic?

Most people don’t even realise it is happening. Despite being in the news and, as much attention as ad fraud is getting, people genuinely don’t know it’s there. You have to educate advertisers to understand, regardless if they are buying traffic or their traffic is all organic, that there is fraud on their site and the steps they need to take to mitigate their exposure. Once corrected, they stand to improve their ROI and KPI’s for their overall campaign buys.

What are the programmatic benefits of using the Anura platform?

If you are using Anura in a programmatic environment – rather than paying for traffic, getting it, realising it’s not great, and then trying to figure out how to eliminate it later – you can decide whether or not to even show your ad before you bid on that location. It’s a pre-bid model. By simply placing our code and flipping the switch, you know right out the gate you’ll be saving money.

What are some of the unique findings that Anura’s platform can give advertisers into the health of their campaigns?

Our analytics package shows granular detail of what is happening with your traffic. The dashboard isolates where the good and bad emanates from, so you can make intelligent decisions on how to reduce or eliminate bad traffic. These drill-down reports make the data junkies really happy; yet they are still simple enough to use and understand for the average person to gather useful information quickly.

Rich Kahn, CEO, eZanga

A good case example came with a recent demo for a potential client. They knew they had fraud on their network, but were having a hard time isolating exactly what was going on and if it was coming from a given source or a certain location. In the Anura dashboard, a client is able to dial their analytics down into a multitude of different aspects and one is called ‘Connections.’ This tells the client how the visitor is connected to the internet (e.g. cable/DSL, cellular, corporate, or dial-up, for example). Now, this client in particular was able to isolate that their traffic was comprised of 95% dial-up traffic. Once this was known, we drilled down further into those dial-up connections to isolate which source of traffic was responsible for the high levels of dial-up traffic and eliminate just that portion of their traffic to improve their overall campaign health.

Similarly, we’ve seen another client that benefited from our ‘Referrer’ analytics. A client was buying a lot of traffic from Facebook, but only saw one or two good clicks out of several hundred. At first, the client believed that perhaps Anura was blocking Facebook, but we were able to confirm that was not the case. However, the traffic coming from that specific connection point at Facebook was causing an issue. The client was able to take those analytics to Facebook and block those traffic referrers. By eliminating that segment, and pushing that budget to better performing segments of Facebook, it significantly improved the overall performance of their Facebook campaigns.

After analysing fraudulent traffic in the platform, what are the next steps for the advertiser?

After someone signs up to the platform, when the data starts flowing through the system, we like to walk them through the platform again. There’s something about seeing your own data and analytics that resonates better with advertisers. Generally, we start with an email pointing out some of the issues we see and give them a little bit to poke around on the analytics package to find the same issues. Then we will review their data with them on a call, pointing out potential issues with their traffic and identifying potential hotbeds of fraud. This gets them started on self-identifying potential issues, but we’re always available to help them troubleshoot or offer general support as well.

How do you see the world of ad fraud developing and how does eZanga plan to stay ahead of the game?

Ad fraud is going to continue to perpetuate because, as I have always said, if you pay someone to do something, the cheaters will come out of the woodwork. Anura has an active roadmap to ensure we are staying ahead of the game and continuing to develop and enhance our technology. Since the platform focuses on the user and true validated performance, it’s a metric that is nearly impossible to fake and we’re not as susceptible to things like Methbot and similar attacks.

The world of ad fraud is going to continue to develop with the growth of internet advertising. Internet advertising isn’t going away anytime soon and neither is fraud. There is no vested interest for fraudsters to stop and, legally, no reason to do so. They will continue to try to work around technologies to make money. It’s why so many technologies, ours included, are careful to not give away their secret sauce. Doing so tells a fraudster: “Hey, here’s what I am doing – come code around it.”

We have several technologies we are working on in conjunction with some of our premium partners to ensure our traffic quality stays ahead of the curve. Plans are already underway, but none of which we can disclose at this time, as we do not want the fraudsters to know what we’re working on and have a leg up on working around it. But, I will say that what has been built up to this point has been significantly ahead of the curve, and our roadmap will keep us on track to become a market leader in the space.