UK Stop Ad Funded Crime set up to tackle online fraud

$68bn of global adspend was lost to fraud and funding criminal activities this year. The UK initiative brings together clients and agencies to tackle ad funded crime, for the world to follow.

UK Stop Ad Funded Crime (UKSAFC) has been set up by a group of advertising professionals, policymakers, technology providers and agencies to tackle the problem of ad funded crime in the UK, with the aim of providing a template that the rest of the world can follow. 

It highlights the scale of advertising fraud in the UK, the threat it represents and sets out to coordinate a multi-stakeholder approach to address it. 

The value of digital advertising spend lost to fraud will reach $68bn globally in 2022; rising from $59 billion in 2021 according to Juniper Research. According to the police, 80% of all UK fraud is cyber-enabled. 

British businesses, third sector organisations and government agencies are unwittingly paying for invalid traffic – fake views and clicks from sophisticated bot networks that eat into advertisers budgets. Meanwhile misplaced ads, revenue fraud, and malvertising are rife online. 

A client and agency coalition 

Of the UK’s yearly advertising spend of £16.5bn in 2020, it is estimated that £1.3bn of it was lost through advertising fraud. This British money directly funds foreign regimes, extremist groups, and criminal enterprises. With advertising money being used to fund a range of malicious activities, there’s evidence that foreign adversaries are benefitting. 

On the UKSAFC’s advisory team is policy, regulation and Government Affairs specialist, former CEO of Radiocentre and Senior Civil Servant, Ian Moss. He explained: “As an industry, we still haven’t managed to crack this issue. Yet there is a huge appetite out there and so we are seeking to get the whole value chain together. We are also ruthlessly following the money – looking at who is committing the fraud, including foreign adversaries and criminal networks. This time we’re actually going to make a difference.” 

Chris Morgan, Founder of MAP commented: “It’s already a huge leap forwards that clients and agencies alike have got onboard with the coalition; sharing their expertise and showing willingness to take action. By talking to government and enforcement agencies, building up research, and sharing expertise and knowledge, we will deliver a world leading initiative that drives action.”

Moss added: “We will be holding short, monthly meetings to which all in the industry are welcome – to combine expertise and support, to look at the landscape, to plan ahead, to ensure a safe online environment and to increase trust in advertising.”