Ad fraud is a major problem for advertisers across all industries, and according to Juniper Research, it’s a problem that’s about to get much worse. The firm predicts that while advertisers stood to lose $42 billion in 2019, they’re going to lose upwards of $100 billion by 2023.

Despite the severity of the problem, the majority of advertisers don’t seem to understand the potential impact ad fraud can have on their campaigns and bottom lines. A recent eMarketer report, for example, found that more than one out of every three digital media professionals in the U.S. say that ad fraud is a growing problem. It’s a good percentage of industry awareness, but it’s still not a majority.

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That said, we believe the figure will almost certainly increase as we move further into the future. At the same time, the lack of understanding of the scope of the problem also gives forward-thinking marketers and advertisers who are in-the-know a head start on their slower moving competitors.

To keep money out of the pockets of fraudsters while maintaining a great brand reputation, publishers and advertisers need to do everything they possibly can to reduce fraud. That starts with understanding the latest ad fraud trends—of which there are many—and knowing what you can do to guard yourself against them.

4 Ad Fraud Trends Crushing Marketing ROI in 2020

Fraudsters are always on the lookout for new methods. Here are four of the more prevalent ad fraud trends that are taking big bites out of company budgets.

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed all of our lives. With everyone staying at home more often, it comes as no surprise that internet use has gone up 70 percent in recent months. What’s more, 53 percent of Americans went as far as saying the internet has been essential to their well-being during these difficult times.

People spending considerably more time online have fraudsters licking their chops. According to one recent report, bad actors see COVID-19 as a prime money-making opportunity and have thus accelerated their efforts during the pandemic.  The Media Trust, for example, found that malware incidents over a 24-hour period are up between 22-35 percent.

For marketers, more traffic can be a great thing, but in the COVID-19 era, you can no longer trust the key performance indicators (KPIs) that guided your efforts in the past. Due to extreme traffic spikes, it can be difficult to determine what good and bad performance looks like. This is why it is so important to invest in an ad fraud detection solution that can block bad traffic.

Cookie stuffing

Chances are you’ve heard of “cookies” before—and no, not the ones you eat. 

When it comes to computers, cookies are small bits of code that websites attach to browsers to keep track of an individual user’s data, preferences, and more. Advertisers also use cookies to customize the user experience by serving up targeted ads, and publishers use them to encourage users to click an affiliate marketing link.

More and more frequently, fraudsters have been engaging in the practice of cookie stuffing, where cookies are “stuffed” into a user’s browser in such a way that makes it difficult to properly attribute sales. Most famously, Shawn Hogan used cookie stuffing to swipe some $28 million from eBay and was sentenced to five months in jail as a result. By stuffing cookies in unsuspecting users’ browsers, it appeared as though Hogan deserved the credit for sales even though he wasn’t actively driving them.

Since people want fast and easy money, more and more fraudsters are following in Hogan’s footsteps and hoping to thieve their way to a similar payday. This is why marketers, and affiliate marketers in particular, need to make sure they are protected against cookie stuffing.

Bots

As technology has advanced, bots have taken center stage. While bots can be put to great use—think automation and customer service chatbots—they are all-too-frequently exploited by fraudsters looking to make some fast cash.

There are a number of ways that fraudsters can use bots for malicious purposes. Most commonly, click bots visit sites and click on ads in order to augment campaign data and eat huge chunks out of advertiser budgets. If you’re an advertiser who’s running a cost-per-click (CPC) campaign and someone sends a click bot your way, you’re going to lose a lot of money—it’s that simple.

Bots are bigger than ever, and they become more sophisticated every day. That being the case, you need to figure out how to detect bots in real time as they approach your properties, so you can block their traffic and drive more ROI for your campaigns.

Influencer marketing fraud

The rise of social media has brought along with it the emergence of influencers,  people who have large social followings who can influence their audiences to buy certain products or support certain brands. This has been a great development for companies that want to get their products in the hands of more people. At the same time, it has also created yet another opportunity for fraudsters in the form of influencer marketing fraud.

Influencer fraud occurs when an “influencer” turns out to not actually be an influencer by artificially inflating their online authenticity and making it seem as though they have more followers and engagement than they actually do. On the extreme end, the so-called “influencer” might not even be a real person! The good news is that by knowing what to look for, you can protect your business against influencer marketing fraud.

Anura: On the Cutting Edge of Ad Fraud Detection and Prevention

To drive more sales, build more engaged customers, and keep more of what you’ve earned, it is critical that your company does everything it can to combat fraudsters. Otherwise, you’ll lose ROI while a criminal actor is putting your hard-earned money in their own pockets.

At Anura, we stay on the cutting edge of ad fraud detection and prevention by keeping our fingers on the pulse of the online ad industry and staying aware of all of the mechanisms fraudsters use to perpetuate their scams. Over the years, we’ve built a powerful ad fraud detection and prevention solution that enables businesses like yours to stop losing sleep over fraud and instead get back more time to focus on the bigger picture.

Our work is never done. We constantly iterate on our product to stay ahead of fraudsters and protect our customers from their efforts. To this end, here are two examples of recent innovations we’ve added to our robust ad fraud detection solution:

  • Anura for WordPress, which enables you to set up a real-time visitor firewall to keep fraud off of your WordPress site altogether.
  • Anura for Google Tag Manager, which is an ad fraud solution designed to accurately eliminate fraud while improving conversion rates.

At Anura, we’ve built a powerful ad fraud detection solution that we believe is the strongest choice on the market. We are committed to helping organizations like yours achieve definitive results, and we work hard to help you succeed. Not only are we constantly updating our algorithms to adapt quickly to the changing fraud landscape, we hold ourselves accountable to be the most accurate solution on the market.

But don’t just take our word for it. Request a demo of Anura today to find out how you can identify ad fraud in real time and drive more profitability—all while making it that much harder for fraudsters to sleep at night.

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