NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The rapid rise of automated advertising, known as programmatic, faces a difficult fraud problem.
To combat marketers' fears of faulty viewership numbers, advertising agencies and their tech partners are attempting to use forensic technology and law enforcement to safeguard a business that is expected to reach $60 billion by 2017.
"The industry is at an inflection point," said Mike Zaneis of TAG, or the Trustworthy Accountability Group , a multi-industry coalition formed to combat advertising fraud. "The marketplace is growing robustly, but there is now the beginning of a debate and a fear in agencies, that these huge investments in digital are being compromised by fraud."
The focus is on stamping out so-called malware and Bots, phony computer-simulated viewers that are among the most insidious forms of fraud plaguing a business that allows advertisers and online publishers to buy and sell in a matter of seconds. Total ad spending that is processed programmatically will hit $60 billion by 2017, RBC Capital Markets analyst Ruhit Kulkarni estimates.
When executed without fraud, programmatic offers big advantages with more personalized and targeted ad placement that is powered by sophisticated technology and is carried out in seconds.
A recent study by digital security firm White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers, however, estimated that advertisers will lose about $6.3 billion in 2015 to the bots, the zombie-like computers that are created by cyber criminals to lure money from companies as they spend ad dollars.