Navigating the Ad Fraud Minefield: Effective Tactics for Fraud Defense

June 18, 2024 3 min
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Ad fraud is a deceptive activity aimed at cheating digital advertising networks for financial gain. This often involves falsifying the number of ad clicks or displays, making ads appear more successful than they are. Such deceptive tactics inflate metrics, causing significant financial losses for advertisers and ad networks.

Digital marketers leverage online advertising to capture their customers’ attention. Advertisers collectively spend trillions of dollars on digital ads each year. With such a significant amount of money at stake, it’s no surprise that fraudsters target this market. Scammers employ tactics like generating fake clicks and manipulating transparency in digital advertising networks. They spoof high-value websites and use bots to mimic visitor clicks, draining money from ad budgets.

Companies must establish a typical user behavior baseline to combat ad fraud. This enables them to detect anomalies indicative of malicious bot activity. Since attackers target web and mobile ads, monitoring bot traffic is essential for advertisers, marketers, and publishers to prevent costly fake clicks.

 

Most Common Ad Fraud Types

Scammers employ various sophisticated techniques to exploit advertising networks and budgets. Understanding these tactics is crucial for marketers to protect their investments and ensure their campaigns reach genuine audiences.

Cookie Stuffing

Cookies track user behavior, providing insights into ad campaign success, conversions, and user interests. Fraudsters exploit this by:

  • Inserting cookies from different websites to manipulate attribution and payment models.
  • Placing cookies on bots to inflate keyword impressions increases costs and benefits scammers.

 

Click Fraud

Click fraud involves bots interacting with PPC ads, making it appear like human users are engaging. This leads to higher ad costs for companies while fraudsters profit. Although publishers earn from these ads, advertisers may pull their ads if they discover fraud.

Click Spamming

This targets mobile apps and websites, executing background clicks without user awareness. Users never see the in-app ads they supposedly interacted with.

Click Injection

This is a form of click spamming that targets Android apps. Scammers detect app downloads to claim credit for installs, resulting in real installs but fake ad engagements. Advertisers end up spending on fraudulent partners.

Domain Spoofing

Fraudsters impersonate high-value domains to exploit ad budgets. Real impressions and users interact with low-quality sites, which aren’t worth the investment. Types of domain spoofing include cross-domain embedding, custom browsers, and human browsers.

 

How to Fight Ad Fraud?

 

Use People-Based Data

Ensure you’re targeting real people, not bots. Utilize people-based identity solutions, such as identity graphs and third-party acquisition data, with providers offering validity guarantees for email data to connect with actual individuals accurately.

Build a Complete Prospect Profile

Enhance people-based data with additional information like firmographics and technographics. Pulling data from multiple sources provides accuracy checks, ensuring your ads reach relevant audiences.

Utilize Clear Intent Data

Target top prospects using deterministic intent data, which focuses on real people’s online actions and behaviors. This approach helps avoid targeting the wrong individuals, especially in shared device environments.

Ensure Clearness of Media Activation

Demand transparency in media activation processes, whether in-house or by an agency. Reliable performance measurement and reporting are essential to identifying and avoiding bots’ impact on ad campaigns.

 

Summary

Ad fraud seriously threatens the digital advertising industry, costing billions annually. However, with practical strategies like utilizing people-based data, building comprehensive profiles, and ensuring transparent media activation, we can defend against these fraudulent practices. 

BidInfluence has learned to combat ad fraud successfully, protecting our partners through third-party scanners and our in-house solutions. With proactive steps, we can soften its impact and guarantee the integrity of digital advertising.