You know times are tough for digital advertising when America’s largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, cuts a significant portion of its digital ad spend, and still continues to grow sales. Spend was  believed to be in the region of US$140m in April-June 2017, but Jon R. Moeller, chief financial officer of Procter & Gamble, noted that it was slashed where it was “ineffective”. Disconcerting for the advertising industry, these were areas where P&G believed its ads were served to bots instead of humans, and at places where the brand’s values were not reflected. While the latter might be a jibe at YouTube, where advertising was found to be served on content of a dubious nature, the problem with bots should have everyone concerned. Digital ad fraud is a major dilemma, with the world’s largest advertising agency, WPP, stating it could account for as much as US$16.4bn in 2017. Deceptive advertising networks form a big part of this, selling ad space on fake sites with click bots driving tra...

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