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Why an Advertiser Needs Ad Fraud Protection

May 24, 2018

Digital advertising is going through some turbulent times, thanks to the influx of ad fraud-related news rocking the industry. The popular transportation company, Uber, found huge amounts of ad fraud in their own marketing campaigns when they decreased their annual ad spend by two thirds, and saw no difference in performance. It took a $100 million dollar cut to realize a massive part of Uber’s marketing budget was being wasted on fraud.

Like Uber, many brands are completely unaware of the threat they are facing. These companies only realize the danger they’re in once they take a hard look to learn why their marketing efforts aren’t performing. With brands on edge and reputations on the line, advertisers need ways to protect their campaigns, clients, and bottom line from the impact of ad fraud.

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:

Ad Injection. Unauthorized ads are placed on legitimate websites. When these ads are clicked on, the visitor is redirected to other sites.

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.

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.

Click Fraud. Click fraud or Pay-Per-Click Fraud is when fraudsters click on ads to increase site visitors or to deplete a competitor’s advertising budget.

Cookie Stuffing. Fraudsters tag visitors with cookies, without their consent or knowledge, in order to receive commissions when that visitor makes a purchase.

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.

Device Hijacking. Fraudsters hijack a unique device, mimicking a real user, to click on ads, watch videos, fill out forms and steal your personal information.

Domain Spoofing. Domain spoofing is the act of driving fraudulent traffic to a "look-a-like" domain and making it appear as if that traffic comes from a trusted domain.

GeoTargeting Fraud. Fraudsters send ads from different locations by masking them to look like they came from the location the advertiser targeted.

Non-Human Traffic. Any form of web traffic that is derived from a non-human source such as bots and malware. It is also known as IVT, or invalid traffic.

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.


Pixel Stuffing

Source: LinkedIn

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.

Related Post: Ad Fraud Glossary: Terms and Definitions

No matter what type of ad fraud is affecting your campaigns, the end result is a massive drain on your ad spend. Like Uber, you could be throwing away two thirds of your marketing budget and never know why your campaigns aren’t performing. Ad fraud is a major threat, and if you do nothing to defend against it, you’ll just continue burning through your advertising budget, with no conversions to show for it.

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, that can protect your web assets against ad fraud in all its forms.

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 served. ”Viewability” doesn’t matter if the ad was viewed by a bot. You want to ensure that your ads are being viewed by actual humans, who have the potential to convert into paying customers.

Related Post: Choosing an Ad Fraud Solution That's Right For You

When choosing 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. Try testing out 2 or 3 solutions to find the best fit 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.

Updated: January 2022

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