Who are Opticks and what do they do?
Digital fraud is the greatest challenge marketers and advertising agencies face today. Broadly speaking, ad fraud involves the deliberate false creation of events in the marketing lifecycle, such as fake impressions, fake clicks, and fake leads. Opticks Security was founded in 2018 with the mission of combatting this growing threat. The Barcelona-based cybersecurity start-up is committed to a vision of an economy where digital fraud has been eradicated. Opticks’ CEO Eduardo Aznar explains how the company was set up to “protect stakeholders in the marketing value chain from ad fraud, using a SaaS model that detects and prevents ad fraud”.
When Opticks was founded, there were already a few ad fraud detection solutions in the market. However, none of them were able to pinpoint and prevent fraud with the same efficacy as Opticks. Eduardo attributes the solution’s success to his team’s expertise on mobile traffic, particularly in the programmatic and affiliate fields. It is this core competency, he believes, that puts Opticks’ software “head and shoulders above the competition in terms of delivering ad fraud detection and prevention in real-time.”
What is ad fraud and why is it such a threat?
Despite the rising challenge of ad fraud, few people are aware of how or the extent to which it threatens businesses. Ad fraudsters mislead marketers and advertisers, actively depleting their budgets. With skewed analytics, they are poorly-positioned to accurately evaluate the success of their ad strategy, and they are less able to make informed decisions. Consequently, they fail to meet their targets, which limits their growth potential.
The advertising and marketing industries have undergone a seismic digital transformation in recent years. By 2027, net global internet ad spending is predicted to average over $1 trillion. As print media spending budgets have fallen, droves of advertisers have pivoted online. In 2018, global internet ad spends increased by 20% from the previous year, and in 2019, it reached $300 billion. This trend has not been slowed by the pandemic, with social media ad spend increasing by 9.8% and online video by 5%.
The transformation has left many businesses vulnerable to a plethora of online scams. According to a Juniper Research report, digital marketing agencies worldwide lost an estimated $42 billion to ad fraudsters in 2019 alone. Similarly, it is estimated that advertisers will have lost $100 billion to fraudsters by 2023. Disturbingly, more than 2/3 of companies with a monthly advertising budget over $1 million cede approximately 20% of their budget to fake traffic. These negative effects have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, with data from the 2020 Annual Ad Fraud Report showing ad fraud in Q2 2020 increased by approximately 15% compared with the same period in the previous year. Furthermore, in a world where 28% of web traffic comes from non-genuine sources (according to Adobe estimates), the Opticks SaaS solution provides essential protection for companies’ digital advertising budgets.
Well-established players can afford to tighten their purse strings when it comes to digital marketing. In 2017, JPMorgan Chase reduced the number of sites it advertised on from 400,000 to 10,000 due to the growing threat of fraudulent activity. Furthermore, given the rising cost of ad fraud, Proctor & Gamble severed its ad budget by $750 million. However, while companies like JPMorgan and P&G’s continued market success can rely on reputation to a certain extent, successful digital marketing operations are critical to the growth of most other growing global brands.
This is where Opticks comes in. Using their market-leading anti-fraud SaaS solution, firms can identify and prevent fake traffic, click farms, and traffic bots. This enables them to protect their ad budgets, work with more accurate data, and make correct decisions, increasing overall ROI.
Fighting fraud in a pandemic
Opticks’ operations have remained robust during the Coronavirus pandemic, with Eduardo highlighting the growth and success seen by the cybersecurity startup in 2020. However, the year did not come without its challenges, such as transitioning to a remote work setup. Eduardo was keen to emphasize the need for a renewed approach to client acquisitions, hiring, and onboarding new employees that the company took during the crisis. Nevertheless, even without physical office space, imaginative solutions were deployed to propel the company’s expansion, with Opticks strengthening existing partnerships and forging new ones.
Opticks has long-standing client relationships with the Chinese telco giant Huawei and a Russian telecoms operator Tele2, among many other leading global brands. One of Opticks’ most successful client acquisitions is Cookies Digital: a Rome-based advertising agency with operations across Europe and MENA. Founded in 2013, it listed #233 on the FT’s list of Europe’s 1000 fastest-growing companies. It specializes in Mobile Performance Advertising and promotes its own product line in addition to an external portfolio of external mobile content. Since beginning their partnership with Opticks, Cookies Digital has boasted an average annual ROI of 1200%, thanks to Opticks’ anti-fraud metrics advisory. Not only do they use Opticks as a fraud detection software, but they also use it to monitor irregular traffic across their international mobile advertisement campaigns.
The Future of Opticks
Serving clients with global reach means that Opticks currently operates in 190 countries. It is most active in MENA, APAC, and Europe, but Eduardo has big ambitions for Opticks and is also looking to increase its market share in other regions. When asked what the principal challenges for Opticks and its clients going forward are, he was quick to emphasize the importance of “constant product development to maintain a competitive advantage over fraudsters”. He also addressed plans to scale up the company’s operations by growing the team and acquiring more international clients. He hopes to expand Opticks’ mission of protecting companies from this increasingly prevalent cybercrime. With the WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) predicting ad fraud will be the biggest market for organized cybercrime by 2025 worth an eye-watering $50 billion, companies across the world will rely on Opticks’ advanced SaaS product for protection.