Three Ways to Fight Fraud on Retail Media Networks

Retail Media is the buzzword in the advertising industry  right now.  Nearly every large retail business has a network and if not, my bet it will pop up! 

Let’s take a step back for a moment, shall we? A retail media network is when a retailer creates an advertising business which allows advertisers to buy advertising space on their owned media (website, app etc) and on other media sources using the retailer's valuable shopper data. Given the dramatic shift to e-commerce in the past few years, and ever increasing consumer expectations, retailers have launched media networks to allow brands to access valuable shopper data to connect with consumers. 

Retailers are learning it’s a lucrative endeavor, especially as the industry prepares for the deprecation of the third party cookie. According to BCG, Retail Media will be a $110 billion market in 2026. Unfortunately, we know all too well how fraud follows the money. Given there is a new way for brands to buy ads and dollars are shifting, the door is open for fraudsters to sneak in and steal a piece of the pie. 

Digital advertising and marketing investments have become the target of cybercriminals who are evolving their tactics, in order to profit through deceptive and abusive engagement onsite. These bots click on paid ads and marketing campaigns. They land in acquisition funnels, fill out forms with stolen PII and breached credentials, and abuse registration and incentive programs. All with fake or stolen data. Fraudsters take advantage of the most common tactics marketers deploy to drive conversions and acquire new users and first party data. Now Retail Media Networks are the new avenue advertisers are investing in, making it a perfect playground for bots.

While this sounds like cause for alarm, there’s a few things you can do to keep this new ecosystem free of fraud while simultaneously growing your Retail Media Network.


1. Break Down Silos in Your Organization

Most companies today deal with teams siloing themselves without even realizing - whether that’s because of distance or design depends on the organization. However, breaking down those silos is imperative to fighting bots - it’s not one person’s job, it’s on all of us.  

Today on average, only two teams are involved in the bot management decision making process which are the application security teams and security operations. Advertisers and marketers are left out of the loop. Forrester released their report, “Now is the Time for Security and Marketing to Team Up to Fight Marketing Fraud,” where they discuss why security leaders and marketers must work together. Our research in the Marketing Fraud Benchmarking Report, found that 43% of respondents didn’t know whether the traffic coming to their website was human or bot. This leads to negative downstream effects by skewing your data and clogging your marketing funnel.

Retail Media Networks consume this data, and it’s imperative that it is squeaky clean for advertisers and marketers. Pulling up a seat at the table with your security teams can ensure that you have a say in the bot management strategy and tools your organization deploys. You need a solution that employs a modern defense strategy to combat even the most sophisticated bots. 

2. Understand Your Data Journey and Focus on Quality 

Your first party data is gold dust and your clients know this. In the latest Retail Media Networks Perception Benchmark 2022  by Insider, 100% of US consumer goods advertisers say that traffic quality is an important attribute  in Retail Media Networks with 86.2% saying it’s Extremely or Very Important. Therefore, understanding how your data got into your CRM or DMP is key to ensuring quality.

Here are a few things we recommend checking out for clues: 

  • Are your login pages protected from account takeover, new account fraud, and credential stuffing/cracking? 
  • Do you know for sure if your engagement data from conversions, form fills, interactions, and payments is real?  
  • Are you seeing gift cards being purchased by bots?
  • Are your reviews real, or are you seeing random upticks in site engagement with low conversion rates?
  • Have you experienced inventory hoarding and is this data in your systems?

All this fake data can filter into your system which can affect your valuable first party data segments, modeling, analytics, attribution and performance - and maybe most importantly your data compliance and trust. When you’re not sure if there are bots clogging your data, you open yourself up to losing trust from advertisers and marketers. Data is king and if it’s not accurate, you’re risking losing advertisers dollars.

3. Ensure Your Media and the Media You Are Buying is Fraud Free 

Lastly, it all comes down to who is seeing your media. It’s important that the media within your network is being seen by human eyes only. This goes for your owned media on your own network, but also the media you are buying to supplement your network. Do you have the right technology in place to give you that transparency to ensure that your network doesn't have any invalid traffic across all environments (desktop, mobile web, mobile app, and CTV) for both open exchange and private deals. 

Retail media networks are only going to become more popular as an avenue for advertisers. Deploying protections and following best practices now is the best way you can fend off sophisticated bots. We want to keep retail media networks human, so reach out to learn how we can fight fraud together.