Ad Industry Launches Effort to Combat Rampant Fraud

Facebook, Google and AOL join the Trustworthy Accountability Group

A new group designed to combat industry-wide ad fraud is up and running with a host of big-name companies on its board. Top brands, agencies, Internet and ad tech companies have officially signed on with the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), which is going after one of the most pressing problems facing CMOs.

The 24-member board includes executives from Mondelez International, JCPenney, Omnicom, Motorola, Google, Facebook, AOL and Brightroll among other industry players. Mike Zaneis, evp and general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, will lead TAG as interim CEO.

The group was conceived last year to stem ad fraud, identify criminal behavior and share policing resources among members, as well as define standards and communicate as a united front. Ad fraud is a persistent problem that some say might amount to $7 billion in wasteful ad spending a year.

"What we're trying to do is put trust in the digital supply chain," Zaneis said in an interview this week. "There are serious challenges."

Zaneis described a worrisome cycle of fraud. Bad actors are establishing websites with pirated content, delivering malicious ads over networks, taking over computers with these ads, driving traffic to their pirated sites and selling ads that only get seen by these zombified computers.

"Marketers need to make sure they know what they're buying, that it's high quality and not supporting criminal activity," Zaneis said.

TAG will focus on four categories of problems—piracy, fraud, malware and transparency, Zaneis added.