Ad Fraud and Ad Fraud Detection in 2023

Abisola Tanzako | May 17, 2023

Advertisers and marketers in various fields, such as tech, media, etc., spend millions yearly acquiring online space and placing advertisements. The reality of this, just like all over the internet, leads to the possibility of massive advertisement fraud. 

Ad fraud is any fraudster’s attempt to defraud any digital advertising network or ad tech platform for financial gain. Ad fraud will deceive advertisers and ad platforms by making them think that all the fake activities on your platform are from genuine users, causing the advertiser to lose money through the entire fraud process.

Scammers mostly use bots to carry out ad fraud. The other ways these scammers carry out ad fraud are through click fraud, click injection, malware installation, etc. All these methods are prevalent, making advertisers pay hugely for the scam.

In 2022, about 44 billion dollars were predicted to be lost to ad fraud. The effect of this fraud is tremendously detrimental to publishers and brand owners. To fight ad fraud, you must be aware of what ad fraud is and take the necessary actions to protect your ad space and ensure that your ads reach your targeted users, not scammers wanting to steal your revenue.

How to Detect Ad Fraud

Timely and efficient ad fraud detection has consistently helped advertisers and business owners save thousands of dollars in ad spend.

You can use the following methods to detect ad fraud as an ad publisher. 

  1. Lack of Performance: 

When there is zero or poor performance from an ad, it is a clear indicator of ad fraud. This is best depicted if the performance of the particular ad is compared with platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. After considering all factors that contribute to the conversion of an ad to be the same, if an ad produces lower conversions than other channels, it means there is the presence of ad fraud. For example, if a page on Facebook gets 50 conversions from 500 clicks or views, whereas the particular ad doesn’t receive any modifications, it must be action and ad fraud.

  1. Poor Analytics: 

When you study your ad performance, the short sessions, and the extremely high bounce rates, ad fraud activity will be revealed. When you compare and contrast the actual interaction of genuine human users of a website to that of a website invaded by bot activities, the presence of ad fraud becomes a giveaway.

  1. Inhuman CTRs (Click-Through Rates): 

Most advertisers are not aware of abnormal click-through rates. For a genuine human interaction, there will be an average CTRs number. Nothing lower or higher than the usual average indicates ad fraud or bot activity.

  1. Server IP Addresses: 

You can easily detect ad fraud by authenticating the IP addresses of the systems by which the click or view was carried out. If the IP address is from a private or corporate strategy, it is a real user, but if the IP address leads back to a server, it clearly means that it is ad fraud.

How To Fight Ad Fraud

The following methods, if followed as an ad publisher, can  help fight ad fraud and bot activities and ensure that your ad reaches your target audience:

Don’t Forget About Your Ad:

This point sounds funny and obvious but be assured that many ads are flying around, and it is straightforward to forget the existence of the former old ad. It is essential that every ad be monitored manually and regularly checked to ensure that there are fundamental interactions between humans and not bots. If you detect any anomalies in an ad’s previous and future performance, that ad should be immediately investigated. Any form of unusual activity can be a sign of ad fraud.

Check the difference between clicks and actual visits:

Sometimes, the best way to achieve something is the cheapest way possible. As an ad publisher, you should regularly examine your ads’ clicks and see if they translate to the corresponding traffic on your website. There is bot activity and ad fraud if the click and visit don’t match. 

Beware of Suspicious Activities

Almost all of the methods to fight ad fraud require you to be very observant of the details of the scam. Your eyes must always be aware of suspicious activities on your website. If you, as an ad publisher, find bad ad performance and the ads on other platforms are reasonable, there must be fraud. The best way to handle that is to ensure that they repeat on other ads.

Blacklist IP Addresses

The truth is that all digital platforms are susceptible to various types of ad fraud. Another easy way to fight fraud is to blacklist or block IP addresses via your Google ad. Mostly, the scam will happen not on corporate or personal systems but on server computers. When you identify those servers, go ahead and blacklist them or block them.

Report in Real Time

Tracking your published ad in real time is much better for catching any fraud immediately. If there is any spike or inconsistency in the visits, clicks, views, or overall website performance, it means fraud is going on. When you monitor your ad in real-time, it will not only save you money but also save your website from security breaches.

Pay Attention to Spikes

Monitoring published ads in real time will only work effectively when you pay attention to spikes in traffic. If clicks on your website lead to sudden spikes in your traffic, that spike should be closely monitored. If most of your clicks come from areas different from your target area, that is fraud, and it should be stopped immediately.

Modify Your Advertisement

Modifying your content ad to contain more conversation-based interaction instead of just click-based interaction reduces your chance of ad fraud attacks. This is because bots easily manipulate click-based interactions, opening up the possibility of ad fraud.

Be Aware of Your Ad Budget

It is no news that publishers spend a lot of money on advertisements, and ad fraud can ultimately lead to the loss of huge funds. Be extremely vigilant of where your money is spent, and ensure you monitor your ads with very keen eyes.

Use fraud prevention software

With the increase of bots’ activities through digital platforms, it is of utmost importance that advertisers employ cross-channel defence to fight against bots and other types of ad fraud. Sometimes the manual method can be ineffective in appropriately detecting fraud activities. Instead of taking chances, you can simply use specialized fraud prevention software such as ClickPatrol that will automatically detect the presence of fraudulent activities on your website and ads before they cause harm.

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