broken computer screen because mad about ad fraud

3 Top of Funnel Metrics You Can Use to Identify Ad Fraud

October 11, 2017

We all know ad fraud is a huge problem in the digital advertising space. But not everyone has a clear idea of what it looks like; about 37% of surveyed advertisers don’t know if they have an ad fraud problem.

Leveraging Top of Funnel Metrics to Identify Ad Fraud

Detecting ad fraud can be tricky, especially if data analysis isn’t your strongest skill. Luckily, there are some simple top of funnel metrics you can track to gauge your click campaign’s security.

1. Lots of Clicks but Low Conversions

Do you have abnormally high numbers of clicks with little conversions in return? If so, you might be an ad fraud target.

Related Post: Monsters of Advertising: Click Fraud

You want people clicking through your ad and completing an action, like filling out a form, subscribing to an email campaign, or making a purchase. In an ideal situation, conversions should increase with click volume; as more people visit, the chances of conversions go up.

Fraudsters most likely aren’t trying to convert. Rather, their goal is to eat away at your ad budget. However, while having no conversions is definitely a red flag, sometimes conversions themselves can be sketchy, too.

Conversion fraud, while harder to recognize, is a huge problem in the digital ad space, especially as bots become more sophisticated. In these scenarios, fraudsters go the extra mile and actually “convert,” such as filling out a form, after clicking on your ad. Once they complete the action, the fraudster, whether bot or human, exits your site and never returns.


Robot GIF - Top of Funnel Metrics

2. High Bounce Rates

A bounce is a single-page session on your website. In other words, it’s what happens if someone arrives at your website’s homepage, for instance, but doesn’t go any further into your site. You can calculate your overall bounce rate by dividing single-page sessions by all recorded sessions.

Related Post: 5 Ad Fraud Questions All Media Buyers Need to Ask

High bounce rates aren’t usually a good thing, but not all instances are ad fraud-related. Your site may not catch people’s attention or have the info they need, so they leave. Some may have accidentally clicked through to your page.


When paired with a high click-through rate, however, a high bounce rate might be a symptom of malicious behavior. Fraudsters, whether they’re bots or human, click through your ad, arrive at your landing page, but then immediately leave. Depending on your campaign model, you’re probably paying up for these bogus clicks.

3. Strange Traffic Sources

Think your campaign’s been compromised? You should dig into your traffic data. Small, critical details may be signs of an underlying problem.


Is traffic coming from outdated browsers or unpopular devices? Do you notice multiple clicks from the same IP addresses? Are you seeing surges of traffic coming from random countries way outside your target parameters?

Related Post: Ad Fraud: The Most Deadly Types You Need to Know

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you might be a victim of ad fraud. Organized schemes, like click farms, often operate out of foreign countries. Fraudsters might use hosted servers to obscure their locations or operate their bots; traffic generated from these servers could share an IP address.

In today’s world, eliminating all ad fraud is next to impossible. But with proper monitoring, you can strengthen your campaign’s defenses. Knowing the hidden clues behind each metric and taking the time to analyze your data will ultimately pay off in the end.

New call-to-action