Online advertising campaigns aim to display details of a product to the person who is most likely to want it. In return, the advertiser’s revenue increases and the publisher is rewarded with an advertising fee. Ad fraud (advertising fraud) is the falsification of the number of times a digital advertisement is clicked on or displayed.
This is a particularly vital topic for marketers to understand. Fraudulent activity can make a significant dent in marketing budgets and skew performance results to the detriment of future strategies.
Ad fraud is typically carried out by competitors or fraudulent publishers who utilise automated bot traffic to repeatedly click on ads. In this instance, money is paid by the advertiser to the publisher and the advertising platform, with the potential to defraud a business of huge sums of money.
How Does Ad Fraud Work
Many websites are funded by the sale of advertising and many other companies invest large amounts of money in advertising campaigns hoping to increase revenue in response.
The system relies significantly, on automated exchanges that will match adverts with potential customers. Ad fraud takes advantage of these automated processes to masquerade as real users and take income for displaying adverts to non-existent users. The fraudulent activity affects both advertisers and publishers.
Advertisers are left paying for adverts that are displayed to non-existent users and publishers suffer increased chargebacks, as advertisers start to identify the number of adverts they suspect have been displayed to invalid traffic (known as IVT). Ad exchanges will detect levels of IVT and when they are too high, can block sites from accessing the exchange.
How to Detect Ad Fraud
At Netacea, we work with publishing sites to identify IVT and give site owners a choice regarding how they handle the fraudulent traffic. This could be by blocking a user from accessing the site, or by returning content but not adding ads to the page. Either way, the result is a drop in IVT.
If you suspect ad fraud is being carried out on, there are several identifying factors to be aware of:
- Repeated visits from the same user agent and spikes in traffic
- Unusually low conversion rates during traffic spikes
- Abnormal peaks in the number of clicks or impressions
- A lack of conversions vs. other platforms
To reliably identify IVT, we analyse the source and reputation of the origin of all traffic to spot bad actors.
Preventing Ad Fraud
You can aim to prevent ad fraud by working with a technology provider that can accurately detect automated bot traffic and identify fraudulent behaviour, defining actions to be taken in the event of a fraud attack.
However, working with a vendor that gives you an accurate view of all traffic to your web-facing infrastructure will give you a comprehensive understanding of what ordinary vs. anomalous traffic behaviour looks like, enabling the effective and efficient blocking of malicious activity present in ad fraud.
What is Ad Fraud?
It’s a type of cybercrime that involves the use of bots to generate fake clicks on ads.
How Does Ad Fraud Work?
These clicks are used to steal money from advertisers by inflating ad impressions, click-through rates, and other metrics.
Who Uses Ad Fraud and Why?
The perpetrators can be individuals or organized groups who have different motivations for committing this crime, such as making more money off their own ad campaigns or getting revenge on an advertiser they believe has wronged them in some way.
How to Detect and Prevent Ad Fraud?
The best way to avoid ad fraud is to carefully review the bidding and targeting features of your advertising platforms. You should also seek advice from cybersecurity professionals who can pinpoint when fake traffic is used.
Our Intent Analytics™ engine, analyses the patterns and behaviours of the traffic, determining how this aligns with that of legitimate users. The engine uses advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect non-human visitors, including botnets.
Request a personalised demo to discover more about our pioneering approach to bot management.