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4 min read

You’ve Identified Ad Fraud. Now What?

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If you’re running digital ad campaigns, you have ad fraud. You know it. We know it. Everyone in the industry knows it.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. If you only know that you have ad fraud, you may think you have two options: stop running digital ads or ignore the ad fraud.

Both are extreme and not a solution to the problem. Digital advertising is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to reach your target audience. Ignoring ad fraud won’t make it go away; like most problems, the longer you ignore them, the larger they become.

Knowing you have ad fraud is one thing. Knowing what to do about it is the next-level thing. What can you learn from it? How can you use the information to make better advertising decisions? Most importantly, what can you do to protect your budget and your brand reputation?

The Unfortunate Reality of Ad Fraud, It Never Ends

Ad fraud occurs because fraudsters see it as a quick and easy way to make money, and they’re not wrong about that. They get paid when they complete a goal such as clicking on an ad or completing an online form.

Fraudsters get away with this because, at first glance, your reporting may indicate that your digital campaign is working. You have a lot of traffic, you get several completed forms — that’s good, right? It can be, but not if this activity comes from bad traffic.

In advertising terms, bad traffic is also known as invalid traffic. General invalid traffic (GIVT) is non-human traffic that can be harmful or benign.  This type of traffic is always there and doesn’t try to hide; it can even help searchers find your site.  While it's important to filter out GIVT from advertising results to ensure accurate performance metrics, it is generally less harmful than other types of invalid traffic.  Regardless, you don't want to be paying for it.

Then there’s sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT). SIVT is more challenging to detect because it closely mimics human traffic; in some cases, it may be human traffic from a human fraud farm. Whether human or advanced bots, SIVT is the root cause of most types of ad fraud.

If you see a great deal of traffic and an initially high conversion rate, only to learn days or weeks later that the conversion didn’t result in a sale, or worse, that information entered on a form was done so fraudulently, putting you at risk of a TCPA violation and resulting fines, you likely have a SIVT problem.

You need to get to the source of the SIVT and block it to prevent further losses. This is not a one and done thing; fraudsters are continuously changing their tactics, so advertisers must always be on guard.

If you have a form on your site, you may consider deleting the form or adding email and phone verification to ensure the contact information is real and that it was entered by the actual person listed.

Another thing to look for in reporting is where bogus traffic is coming from geographically. If your target audience is in the U.S., but you see a lot of traffic coming from France, that traffic is likely fraudulent and needs to be headed off before it gets to your site. Revisit your ad settings and make sure your ad will only be seen in the geographic regions that you serve.

Be wary of sources that drive the most traffic. Some of the biggest drivers of traffic may not be the best drivers of positive outcomes as much of the traffic may be fraudulent.

Don’t Fight Fraudsters On Your Own

There are almost as many ad fraud tactics as there are fraudsters. We’re not saying that to scare you. We’re saying that so you will know that it’s okay to seek help from professionals in your fight against ad fraud. It’s the only way to significantly reduce the amount of SIVT and fraudulent activity in your digital ad campaigns.

This is where an ad fraud solution comes into the picture. There are hundreds to choose from; they’re not all created equally and that can make choosing one that much harder, but there are some things you can investigate and questions you can ask to narrow the search.

First, make sure any ad fraud solution you’re using or considering is doing more than identifying GIVT. To be effective, you want a solution that looks at hundreds of data points to identify SIVT and offers real-time analysis of the traffic so you can make real-time decisions to block fraudsters.

Second, you’re looking for a solution that can seamlessly integrate into your ad stack and web assets, giving you instant access to all your data. Time is money and the more time you spend setting up your ad fraud solution, the more money you’ll lose to ad fraud.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure your ad fraud partner is committed to a high level of standards and guidelines to fight SIVT and ad fraud. The easiest way to do this is by checking for Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) certification or accreditation from the Media Rating Council (MRC). Out of the hundreds of ad fraud solutions available, fewer than 10 have earned this rating from independent third-party reviews. This means they are committing to stringent guidelines in their efforts to fight invalid traffic and fraud.

To demonstrate our own commitment to combating ad fraud, every year we successfully earn the distinction of being TAG Certified Against Fraud. This rigorous process, involving a thorough external audit by an independent firm, verifies our compliance with industry-leading standards and ensures our partners receive authentic traffic for their advertising spend.

Once you have an ad fraud solution on your side, put them to the test. One way to do this is by noting how much traffic is flagged as bad or with a warning that something seems suspicious. Some advertisers don’t want to block that traffic, especially if it is a high percentage, because they don’t want to miss out on any opportunities. That’s fine, at first. This gives them time to see if the conversions that came from the “bad” traffic are legitimate, or if they end up being fraudulent. If the ones your ad fraud solution tagged don’t lead to real results, you can trust that it’s working for you. Continue to check their reporting against your results to make sure they’re learning and adapting to better block SIVT.

We’re here to help you identify invalid traffic and fight fraud. During our 15-day fully functional free trail, we’ll show you how much fraud you have today, and where it’s coming from. You can take our in-depth dashboard for a spin and see the type of information you’ll have at your fingertips, and how easy it is to use.

Find out what sets Anura apart from the competition, then contact us today!

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