In November of 2022, new market research showed that the ad fraud detection tools market was set to grow remarkably fast, reaching a total value of $752.89 million by 2028 with a CAGR of 17.1%. These high numbers make sense when you consider the scale of ad fraud in today’s world. Computer World estimates that over a third of ad impressions may be bots.
From a digital marketing perspective, organizations should be concerned by the growing amount of fraud. As more new small and medium-sized businesses enter the digital marketing space, fraudsters and cyber criminals are targeting a new crop of potential targets. Ad fraud can not only ruin your advertisement budgets but can also result in lost time working to convert leads that never filled out forms and violations of a law known as TCPA, which can result in expensive fines and even lawsuits. Fortunately, there is a way to maintain compliance with TCPA and mitigate the risks of ad fraud – utilize an ad fraud solution. Read on to learn more about what TCPA is and how to avoid violations caused by ad fraud.
What Is TCPA?
In 1991, Congress passed into law the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). At the time, auto-dialing technology had been refined, and marketers were reaching thousands of people every day, spamming them with prerecorded calls and annoying robocalls. Eventually, the problem reached a boiling point, and Congress took action. The law prevents telemarketers from contacting consumers with unsolicited messages via telephone or fac without prior consent. In 2013, the law was updated to include unauthorized text messages.
The consequences of violating TCPA can be severe, costing your organization millions of dollars in fines and legal fees. A single unsolicited message could carry up to $1,500 in penalties. However, these calls are frequently sent out to thousands of people. Multiply those fines by thousands, and the cost quickly reaches millions of dollars.
In September of 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted preliminary approval of a TCPA class action settlement with DirecTV, the well-known satellite TV company. If fully approved, the settlement requires the TV company to pay $17 million in fines as well as an award of attorney fees of up to $5.61 million.
Additionally, the well-known cruise line representative Resort Marketing Group settled a class action lawsuit over TCPA violations that cost them between $7 million and $12.55 million in legal payouts. As you can see, the consequences are very serious when it comes to falling out of TCPA compliance.
What Is Ad Fraud?
Are you seeing any of these issues in your digital marketing campaign?
- Lots of Clicks, But Low Conversion Rates
- Best-Performing Campaigns Generating Low ROI
- High Bounce Rates
- Visitors’ Time Is Low
If so, you may be experiencing ad fraud yourself. Simply put, ad fraud is the illegal practice of viewing, clicking, converting, or generating false interactions with any web asset for the sole purpose of earning money directly or indirectly. Ad fraud can be done using bots, malware, or humans. Bots (short for robots) automate the process of fraudulently clicking ads or filling out forms. Bots enable fraudulent actors to accomplish a great deal of ad fraud at once. Because advertisements are often paid on a per-click basis, bots are a relatively easy way for cybercriminals to create revenue. Malware can take control of a user’s computer without their knowledge and use it to fill out forms and click on ads. Finally, there is human fraud, which relies on a network of human users to click on ads without any real intention of learning more about the products or services being offered. This is generally the hardest form of fraud to combat.
How Ad Fraud Creates TCPA Compliance Issues
The ultimate goal of all digital marketing is to generate leads. However, these leads need to be high-quality and genuine. This is the only way to get high conversion rates and remain compliant with the TCPA. Without having confidence in your lead generation efforts, you’re at risk of a TCPA violation every single time you or your clients pick up the phone. It is vital to vet your leads and ensure that fraudulent sources are not involved.
How can ad fraud impact lead generation? Many cyber criminals use genuine customer information to fraudulently fill out thousands of contact forms. This information is frequently stolen, or purchased from data breach brokers on the dark web. After a major hack, the large amounts of private data that were stolen are often put up for sale on the dark web by these brokers. Fraudsters can then purchase this data and use their bots or malware to fill in thousands of your forms with real information. They are able to do this using Form Bots. Form Bots are automated programs that have been designed to fill out forms and have been long been a popular form of ad fraud.
The insidious thing about this fraud is that the information will look genuine to your team as you check it against real customer data. Then, your marketing team will start making calls to the unsuspecting victims of identity theft. They will most likely say that they have never heard of you or your company and that they never filled out a form. You just broke TCPA compliance.
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid these incidents. With an ad fraud solution, you can block fraudsters from reaching your site before they have a chance to convert. You just need to take a closer look at your traffic.
TCPA Compliance, Powered By Ad Fraud Detection
Every visitor to your site shares unique identifying information, such as an IP address or user agent. These strings of text can be broken down into meaningful facts; you can see a user’s browser information, what device they are on, and their geographic location.
This is vital information that ad fraud detection software can use to determine if your visitors are real or fake. The software could inform you that fraudulent visitors are from a particular geographical location. It could also identify suspicious IP addresses or an influx of bad traffic coming from an outdated browser.
Once you have identified the source of the fake visitors, you can use that actionable data to stop ad fraud in its tracks.
How To Stop Ad Fraud And Maintain TCPA Compliance
The goal of stopping ad fraud is to maintain the quality and integrity of your lead generation process. As long as the leads you generate are genuine and high quality, your team’s time won’t be wasted, and you will be safer from TCPA compliance violations. Using your ad fraud software, there are several steps you can take to protect your site from these malicious actors.
1. Create An IP Block List
Has your ad fraud detection software identified specific IP addresses that are generating fraudulent visitors? If so, you can add these suspicious IPs to a block list that will be prevented from accessing or visiting your site. This will stop bots from being able to fill out your forms. Many different ad fraud solutions come with IP block lists as features of their platforms, but it isn’t enough to simply rely on a single list. You need to maintain and update your list by regularly checking the data from your ad fraud technology. This will include adding new IP addresses whenever they are identified.
2. Set Up Obstacles Like RECAPTCHA
It won’t be possible to keep out all fake leads with just an IP block list. Inevitably, fraudulent bots will still get through and attempt to use your ads and forms. As an added layer of protection, we recommend setting up a RECAPTCHA verification system on any of your forms which enables your site to verify that the user is, in fact, a human before permitting them to submit their information. This can allow you to weed out bots before they have a chance to enter their fraudulent data.
3. Lay Out A Honeypot
A “honeypot” is a term used in cybersecurity to describe a fake target created to attract malicious actors instead of your genuine assets. When fighting ad fraud, you can use a honeypot form that is only viewable to bots. They will be drawn to the invisible form and fill it out instead of using your real form. This is a field that is embedded in the code of the web form and, consequently, isn’t visible to human visitors to your site. When bots visit your site, they scan the web code, are tricked by the honeypot, and fill in the form field. If the field is filled in, you can know that the data is fraudulent.
Maintain TCPA Compliance with Anura
Looking to make fraud detection easier and more straightforward? Anura can help. We provide clear results by boosting your conversions and optimizing your adspend. Our fraud detection strategies are precise and highly effective. With a suite of customizable features and excellent customer service, we offer everything you need to tackle ad fraud effectively. Request a free trial to find out exactly how much fraud you’re experiencing now.