Marketers don’t have to consult a Magic 8 Ball to learn if they have ad fraud. We can tell if you have ad fraud by asking one simple question: Do you automate the placement of your digital campaigns via programmatic advertising?
If your answer is “yes,” our answer is “without a doubt, you have ad fraud.” There. That’s our message this week. Thank you for reading our blog post.
Need More Proof of Ad Fraud? Here Are Your Signs.
While it’s safe to say that anyone using programmatic advertising to buy ads will experience ad fraud, something that may result in advertisers losing $100 billion this year alone deserves a deeper dive into the signs and reasons. We’ve gone over the ad fraud warning signs before, but they bear repeating and updating.
The top signs of types of ad fraud include:
Aren’t increased clicks a good thing? Don’t advertisers want people to click on their ads? Yes, getting real people with a genuine interest in the advertiser’s product or service to click on digital ads is the goal. But when the results of the ad impressions look too good to be true, you may be looking at ad fraud in the form of bots and click farms. In that case, you’re paying for clicks that will never convert, which leads us to …
Low conversion rate
The clicks are there, however, the legitimate leads—and therefore the sales—are not. This is a sign of fraudulent activity that not only wastes your ad dollars but it also erodes your ROI. What if your ads get a lot of impressions with no results? This may indicate bots are flooding your web pages or the publishers where your ads are running.
Abandoned shopping carts
Not the ones you dodge in the parking lot. We’re talking about the online ones that are filled with merchandise, but the “shopper” doesn’t check out because it’s likely a bot.
Depleted ad budget
You quickly hit your click budget but see little return. This can happen if fraudulent publishers or programmatic platforms place your ad inventory where they are more likely to be seen by bots instead of your target human audience.
High bounce rates (or low engagement rates)
You may have noticed there is no “bounce rate” in GA4. Instead, the engagement rate lets you know what percentage of visitors viewed two or more pages on your site, spent at least 10 seconds on your site, or converted. A low engagement rate could mean you have bots who bounce and run. While this can certainly indicate ad or click fraud, humans won’t engage if your site is slow, difficult to navigate, or isn’t engaging.
Low session duration
Or, in GA4 terms, average engagement time per session, the time spent actively engaged with your website or app per session. A good rule of thumb real humans interested in what your company has to offer will spend more time on your site or app. If you notice a lot of visitors who are spending very little time, say less than 48 seconds, on your site or app, they may be bots and indicate ad fraud.
Unfamiliar or unassigned traffic sources
A high rate of suspicious traffic patterns, particularly if there is low engagement, could suggest the presence of bots and advertising fraud. Other red flags include multiple clicks from the same IP address and high traffic volume from locations outside of your target audience’s geographic region.
Low performance or low page views
When ads fail to perform, and you have all the marketing basics such as a well-defined target audience and the right messaging in place, your ads may be a victim of pixel stuffing or ad stacking. Both of these generate impressions without genuine visibility.
What’s Programmatic Got to Do with Ad Fraud?
This year more than 90% of digital display ad spend is predicted to be driven by programmatic advertising. Automating the ad buying process improves the ability to improve ad performance by better targeting audiences.
However, this benefit has a significant downside. Programmatic advertising is also rife with ad fraud. Shockingly, we find that, on average,40 to 50% of programmatic ad spend is lost to sophisticated fraud.
According to a recent report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), a substantial part of advertising budgets is being squandered on made-for-advertising (MFA) websites. The report disclosed that a staggering 15% of advertising budgets—roughly $13 billion—is wasted on these sites. Besides the monetary loss, ads featured on MFA sites can tarnish brand reputation and erode consumer trust.
While traditionally associated with consumer brands, programmatic strategies are expanding in the B2B sector. With the continued prioritization of efficiency and optimization of resources—i.e., “do more with less”—there’s a universal need for marketers to prioritize quality over quantity. To see the highest return on ad spend (ROAS), B2B marketers in addition to B2C must work with a reputable partner to minimize ad fraud and maximize campaign results. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Can Programmatic Ad Fraud Be Stopped?
For those involved in purchasing or selling programmatic advertising without an established ad fraud solution, the reality is you are indeed experiencing ad fraud. This fact applies universally to marketers, spanning both the B2B and B2C domains. The question is not whether ad fraud exists but rather the extent of its impact, apart from the substantial 40-50% slice it takes from your advertising budget.
Beyond hard dollar losses, the costs are steep. Without a reliable ad fraud partner, you’re also putting your reputation at risk. Plus you’re wasting additional resources as your contact center associates and sales reps waste time chasing fake leads and lose confidence in your marketing campaigns.
Even if you have an ad fraud partner, it’s worth it to take Anura for a free 15-day test drive and compare our solution to the one you’re currently using.
What sets us apart?
No false positives
You never want to turn away good leads! We are committed to ensuring you never miss out on valuable leads. Our system identifies prospects with 99.999% accuracy, and we continue to update our processes to provide ongoing results.
More fraud caught
Anura ScriptTM uncovers sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) by using multiple data points to stop bots, malware, and fraudulent human activity in its tracks in real time.
You’ll see all the data we used in making decisions about fraudulent activity, so you’ll know exactly why and how a visitor was flagged as fraudulent. You can compare that data against your own and, if you note any discrepancy, we’ll work with you to ensure consistent results.
As a TAG-Certified Against Fraud solution, Anura has been through a rigorous third-party process that ensures our processes lead to real-time detection of both fraud and legitimate visitors.
Furthermore, our process identifies where valuable leads originate. This enables you to invest your ad budget in the channels where it will be most successful, including programmatic advertising. Reducing waste and achieving greater ROI is how you win against ad fraud.
“So, Magic 8 Ball, should I talk to an expert at Anura to identify fraud issues with my programmatic advertising?” Signs point to yes!