Fighting advertisement fraud, this adtech startup is helping brands save millions
Advertisements have now become fundamental to running a digital business. Many online platforms, including the one you’re reading this article on, rely on ad revenues as part of the business model.
According to Oberlo, brands are spending close to $602 billion worldwide on digital advertising—with around 66.4% of the overall expenditure on media ads.
While digital advertising is increasing at an annual rate of over 12%, the number of frauds and ad traffic validations is also on the rise. About $68 billion is estimated to be wasted worldwide due to ad fraud by the end of 2022.
This has led to a trust gap between various players in the value chain.
“The advertiser should have transparency and confidence in where and how much money is being spent, and at the same time, the publisher and agency partners should mirror the brand’s expectations," Amit Relan, CEO and Co-founder, mFilterIt, tells YourStory.
Founded by Amit and Dhiraj Gupta in 2015,aims to plug that gap by providing advertisers, publishers, affiliates, and other related parties with real-time data that helps them understand the returns from their digital investments.
Understanding ad fraud
Both Amit and Dhiraj have worked in the telecom industry, with major stints at companies like Nokia Networks. Gaining 15 years of experience each, CEO and co-founder Amit has experience in business development and sales, whereas co-founder and CTO Dhiraj has worked on product management functions.
Having an in-depth understanding of the industry, they knew that the primary weapon of digital advertising fraud is bots, with many platforms fudging traffic numbers using fraudulent accounts. However, Amit explains that many brands were not aware of such fraud.
"Our first task was to inform advertisers about the problem and prove the existence of bots and invalid traffic. We had to further educate advertisers about the consequences of invalid traffic and how it manipulates the metrics," he explains.
The Gurugram-based startup has started an awareness campaign around the ‘Zero Trust Framework,’ educating advertisers about the need to partner with a third-party traffic verification solution provider like mFilterIt instead of trusting the data provided by publishers and affiliates.
The company also recognised that the digital ecosystem suffers from a high deficit of trust and transparency.
"mFilterIt helps with media verification, thereby helping brands, agencies, and publishers activate and optimise digital media campaigns," says Amit.
It also interacts with publishers to give them a detailed and transparent report, including reasons why the traffic has been marked invalid.
What does it offer?
A cross-platform digital integrity protection company, mFilterIt provides the following services:
- Ad traffic validation: Its platform detects and eliminates invalid traffic from digital advertising.
- Brand hygiene protection: Its tools protect the brands’ web and app assets by ensuring campaigns run in compliance with brand guidelines across the digital media landscape.
- Ecommerce competitive intelligence: mFilterIt offers a real-time analytics solution—mScanIt—to assess brand competitiveness from a consumer perspective across the digital retail ecosystem.
- Mobile identity solutions: A tool for safe and swift silent user verification and one-touch authentication.
- Seller risk analysis and merchant onboarding: It cuts merchant onboarding time and cost with end-to-end workflow orchestration and configurable integration adapters that automatically aggregate information from internal and external systems and databases. This enables the audit of merchant websites.
- Creative compliance: The startup’s creative compliance tool flags non-compliant text, image, and graphic elements of the creative.
- Chargeback: It protects payment companies against risky customers and transactions and enables them to provide value-added services to their merchants by clubbing the managed risk solution for every transaction processed on the platform.
How does it work?
mFilterIt integrates with the advertiser’s attribution and analytics platform to plug digital media leakages and eliminate unsafe brand placement.
Its solutions are cloud-based and built on an AWS stack. The tracked data is fed to AI to identify whether the user is genuine or not. Amit adds that it took the company four to six months to create the ad traffic validation suite, which is updated to handle new types of fraud.
"The core strength of our tech is the ability to deterministically identify real performance through a multi-factor, complex device signature solution. Our proprietary algorithms run on machine learning and can process over 65 key attributes," Amit asserts.
The startup has provided services to over 500 brands across sectors such as banking, fintech, FMCG, and gaming. Some of its clients include, , , , , Unilever, , , MX Player, , , , and MPL
It claims that its user base is growing 23% year-on-year (YoY).
mFilterIt validates over two billion transactions per week and has three billion unique device coverage.
With a 20% improvement in average return on ad spends (ROAS), the company claims to have improved metrics like click-to-conversion rate and reduced average capital planning and management solutions (CPMs) and cost per click (CPCs). It also claims to have helped clients save about $400 million so far—a figure calculated based on the average client advertising spend and the percentage of fraud detected.
One of their beneficiaries is the adhesive manufacturing company, Pidilite.
“We were able to improve the efficiency of our performance marketing spends and optimise our call centre bandwidth based on the quality of the leads by using mFilterlt,” says Parth Desai, Sr Manager, Pidilite.
Operating on a mixed revenue model, mFilterIt charges undisclosed commission depending on the media volume or a percentage of media spend for ad traffic validation. For ecommerce intelligence solutions, the pricing depends on the number of platforms, SKUs, and competitors to be tracked.
mFilterIt earned more than Rs 41 crore in FY22. It is witnessing 40% YoY growth in revenue.
"Our measurement systems are 80% more accurate than the competition's as we integrate directly with the source, i.e., the advertiser. Our competitors have claimed 1% fraud in the global ad fraud report whereas we have been able to detect over 30% fraud for the same platforms," Amit claims.
Along with India, the startup has a presence in regions such as APAC, MENA, and North America. It generates around 75% of its business from India and 25% from international markets.
In 2015, the founders initially raised undisclosed capital from telecom solutions company 6D Technologies to bootstrap the startup.
The startup currently employs more than 250 employees globally and competes with players such as Double Verify, Integral Ad Science (IAS), and Oracle MOAT, to name a few.
mFilterIt intends to increase its revenue by 5X over the next three years.
It plans to expand its global footprint and is in the process of strengthening sales and other distribution channels in key international markets.
"We will continue to innovate and launch new products to address potential frauds around user digital identities and add trust to the global digital ecosystem," he signs off.
Edited by Kanishk Singh