Digital advertising is going through some turbulent times, thanks to the influx of ad fraud-related news rocking the industry. Bots and brand safety concerns had top brands like P&G pulling millions of dollars away from digital ad spending in 2017. Recent investigations exposed an elaborate fraud scheme conducted by the publisher behind Newsweek and the International Business Times.
With brands on edge and reputations on the line, advertisers need ways to protect their campaigns, clients, and bottom line from ad fraud’s reach.
Ad Fraud Attacks
Saying ad fraud affects advertisers seems pretty obvious, but knowing exactly how ad fraud harms your campaigns can better equip you in the fight against it. The most common fraud schemes launched against advertisers include:
Affiliate Fraud. To get bigger paychecks from brands by customer acquisitions, some affiliate fraudsters use deceptive lead generation practices, such as buying unauthorized traffic, incentivising leads, and using bots to click ads and fill forms.
CPC Fraud. Here, fraudsters target the most popular search keywords with the highest cost per click (CPC) and go on to build phony websites or content farms stuffed with high ranking keywords. Because the sites look real, advertisers are tricked into buying ad space at a premium.
Pixel Stuffing. Sometimes fraudsters operating on the publisher side serve multiple ads within a 1x1 pixel on a page. Since the ad is technically viewable, advertisers must pay for impressions, even though a real user didn’t actually see the ad.
Ad Stacking. Similar to pixel stuffing, ad stacking happens when ads are layered on top of each other in a frame, but only the very top ad is shown. But because all the ads loaded, they’re each charged for an impression.
Retargeting Fraud. To trigger a retargeting campaign, fraudsters program bots to click through product pages, abandon shopping carts, or perform other actions to make it seem like they’re real customers. But since they’re bots, they’re never going to convert, even if you retarget them an infinite number of times.
No matter what type of ad fraud is affecting your campaigns, all you’re doing is burning through your advertising budget.
Finding a Solution
Trying to combat ad fraud on your own is certainly no easy task, especially since fraudsters constantly change up their tactics. With so many other responsibilities to tackle, it may be in your best interest to leave ad fraud protection to a reputable solution.
Remember though, not all solutions on the market work the same way. Many platforms rely on vanity metrics, such as viewability and probability statistics, to determine whether or not ads are really served.
When picking a solution, find one that focuses on the user’s legitimacy, not the ad’s viewability. A proper solution should also give you measurable data, not estimations, on why it determined a user to be suspect. Take advantage of trial periods, if offered, to see if the product is right for your business.
With proper protection, you can spend less time worrying about ad fraud and stay focused on what really matters — driving conversions and creating customers.