Ad fraud is estimated to cost brands $19 billionglobally this year. To put that in perspective, the most recent standard was $16.4 billion for 2017.
Saying this number is accelerating is an understatement.
Bad bots are smart, and they’re becoming more intelligent every year. What worked as protection for your business a year ago, might need some adjusting to have the same effect.
Here’s how to protect your brand’s reputation and your consumer’s information from devious bots.
Use a CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test,” which tells apart computers from humans. Most bots can’t fill out a CAPTCHA form. By placing a CAPTCHA on your site, you make it hard for bots to “do their job.” Consider placing a CAPTCHA on:
Signup Pages. By placing one on your signup pages, you’re protecting your company from serving fake users. And you’re also saving your user’s information from exposure.
Comment Sections. If you have a blog on your site, you should be protecting your comments section with a CAPTCHA. Bots like to hijack your comment section to promote other sites, making their comments irrelevant to your content.
Online Polls. Online poll manipulation helped fuel ‘fake news’ during the 2016 election. Imagine if those online polls had a CAPTCHA attached to them. Game changer.
Taking the time to fill in a CAPTCHA can be frustrating, especially when the letters and numbers are too blurry, or the font overlaps. When choosing a CAPTCHA, make sure the font is legible, and don’t be afraid to get a little creative, too.
Here’s an eye-friendly and eye-catching spin on a CAPTCHA, seen below.
Now keep in mind, CAPTCHA isn't the be-all and end-all. But it is a good start, and you can use it in combination with other preventative measures.
Block IP Addresses
Have you ever created an advertisement for your brand and then received inquiries from countries you don’t serve? If yes, you might have a bot problem.
Let’s say you’re a dog breeder located in the U.S. You’re using PPC, pay per call, or even display. Your advertisements are reaching lots of people. But you notice a lot of traffic coming from Europe. Hmm.
Is it likely someone who lives across the globe is going to buy a puppy from you? Unless it’s a super rare breed, probably not. Besides, are you really going to ship a puppy around the world?
While geotargeting can help you choose which locations see your advertisements, it’s not full-proof. Consider also blocking IP addresses from countries you don’t serve.
Create a Watchlist
A lot of businesses make the mistake of enforcing a blacklist for fraudulent accounts. While this might seem to work initially, a watchlist is the better option.
Perhaps an IP address is setting off a red flag, but previously there were no issues. Torn, you don’t want to write them off completely. What if it’s a case where malware infected the computer? By keeping an eye on accounts like this, you can allow them back into your ‘inner circle’ once they’ve cleaned up.
These are just a few existing tools to protect against bad bots. When deciding which tool is best for your business, keep these options in mind as potential ways to protect your reputation and your consumers from bad bots. Remain vigilant, we’re all in this together.