Common Ad Fraud Techniques in 2023

Abisola Tanzako | May 24, 2023

Fighting Ad fraud has been a recurring challenge for businesses and marketers worldwide. To effectively fight ad fraud and protect your business, marketers must become familiar with the types of ad fraud that exist. 

Some of these ad fraud techniques are familiar; marketers have been dealing with them for a long time, while others are more recent and less common.

10 Ad Fraud Technique And How to Stop Them

The issue of ad fraud is on the rise, and the various technologies used to carry it are also on the rise. We will discuss below different ad fraud techniques, their risks, and how to prevent them from messing with your ad campaign. 


Bad bots are the kind of bots that carry out malicious activities such as fake impressions, fake clicks, ad fraud, etc. The existence of bad bots is constantly growing and evolving. They are gradually behaving like real human users and almost effectively emulating human workflow across all web activities to look like actual users while not in use. Their actions make it seem like there are tons of impressions on the ad when it is the work of a bot.

Threats caused by bad bots

Bad bots are intensely malicious. They can drain your ad budget quickly and generate many fake clicks. They contribute to click fraud, lead fraud, subscription fraud, impression fraud, skewed analytics, etc. Bad bots also quickly serve malware to users, plagiarize content, steal credentials, and drain a lot of money from your ad budget. 


Malware hijacks devices from users, causing them to perform illegal functions. This takes place when fraudsters insert malicious codes during installation. Unknown to genuine users, they install fraudulent apps or SDKs (software development kits) that load impressions outside of where they can be visible on the user’s webpage. The SDKs or apps will, in turn, trigger fraudulent clicks. Apps outside the Play Store are usually the vehicle for this fraud technique. You will identify the presence of malware when data usage, battery drain, and unwanted subscriptions increase. 

Threats caused by malware

They hijack devices to perform click frauds, lead fraud, impression frauds, subscription frauds, etc. The malware also wastes ad budgets by creating fake impressions and fake clicks. Malware skews metrics of engagement and wrongly influences future decisions on ad spending. 

Click Farms

Clicks Farm is also known as Phone Farm. They consist of poorly paid workers who manually click on ads online to increase impressions and click-through rates. When lead generation fraud is carried out, we call them lead farms. These workers fill out multiple forms with random information or sometimes with data from real people without their consent. Click farms usually vary in sophistication, but overall, the concept of click farms is simple. So here is how it works: a vast room filled with poorly paid workers manually clicking on various ads through the provided phones or computers. They aim to drain your ad budget.

Threats caused by click farm

The main goal of click farms is to drain your ad budget as efficiently as possible. Click farmers carry out subscription fraud, impression fraud, skew data, analytics, etc. Click farms are prominent in countries with a high population of cheap labour, like India, the Philippines, etc., making it much more challenging to hold them.


A botnet is a network. They usually consist of multiple devices infected by malware. They are controlled by fraudsters remotely with the intent of carrying out malicious activities like data theft, marketing fraud, credential leaks, etc. A botnet aims to infect connected devices and use them for repetitive, automated tasks that cannot be detected. Fraudulent traffic is diverted by using infected machines to override web browsers partially. By just using a small portion of the web browser, they remain invincible to the users. 

Threats caused by botnets

Botnets are very malicious. With the number of fake clicks botnets can generate, your ad budget can be drained quickly. Botnets can be used for click fraud, impression fraud, subscription fraud, etc. They can also get through security questions and passwords rapidly. 


Clickjacking is when real users are deceived into clicking on a web page that is invisible or disguised as something different. This technique fools users into visiting unsafe web pages, downloading malware, authorizing money transfers, giving out personal information, etc. Here is how it works, malicious links (disguised or invisible) are placed on top of a website’s user interface. These real users think they are clicking on an actual web page, but instead, they are clicking on a disguised link that has been placed over it.  

Threats caused by clickjacking

Clickjacking is a form of attribution fraud. This highly malicious fraud technique steals personal credentials and money and even leads users to an insecure website. This technique is relatively localized and easy for the fraudster to use.

Proxy Traffic

Put simply, proxy traffic is website traffic proxied by a different server. It could be proxied by other servers. Scammers use proxy traffic to allow browsing anonymously by hiding the IPA location so that they can carry out fraudulent activities. Advertisers then begin to believe there is traffic on their web page from high-tier countries; meanwhile, it comes from less valuable traffic.

Threats caused by proxy traffic

Fraudsters can use proxy traffic to carry out click fraud, subscription fraud, impression fraud, attribution fraud, lead fraud, and skewed analytics.

Click injection

Click fraud is an advanced type of click spam that affects Android devices. For this fraud technique, fraudsters can access apps downloaded that listen to an “install broadcast.” This install broadcast notifies the fraudsters when a new app is downloaded. Before the user opens the app, the clicks are triggered immediately after the download. This click compensated the fraudster for attribution. Fraudsters employ apps of low quality to infect devices. Like those apps that provide wallpaper for phones, these apps function in the background, so they appear to be asleep; this way, they can generate clicks.

Threats caused by click injections 

This ad fraud technique drains ad budget, damages advertiser’s traffic, skews data, etc. Click injections are easy to implement; they directly infect devices and are highly malicious.

Click spamming

Click spamming is also known as click flooding. This ad fraud technique happens when fraudsters send many fake clicks to an advertisement to fraudulently capture pay-per-click budgets or receive attribution. In click spamming, fraudsters begin to operate when users open a web page or download an app used by them. Once users open the app or web page, the scammers can generate a fake impression that appears natural, send clicks to random vendors from the user’s device, and tend out fake clicks to invincible ads. All these activities are carried out without the knowledge of the user. 

Threats caused by click spamming

Regarding maliciousness, click spamming isn’t as bad as the other types of ad fraud, but it drains ad budgets.

Ad stacking 

As the name implies, ad stacking is when fraudsters stack various ads on each other as a single ad placement. The ad on top is visible to the user, but advertisers will pay for the other false ads underneath. Here is how it is done: fraudsters join ad exchanges to sell ad spaces when an advertising space is made available. The moment the area is bought, the scammers stack the ads on top of each other.

Threats caused by ad stacking

This ad fraud technique is a bit more difficult for fraudsters to deploy, but like other ad fraud, they drain the budget quickly, misinterpret campaign analytics, fake impressions, etc. 


Geomasking is when fraudsters conceal the location of their generated leads. Usually, campaigns have various ad spends for multiple sites; for instance, a piece of information is worth more in the US than in Brazil. Fraudsters spoof the IPA, so it looks more valuable than it is. Advertisers pay for quality leads and get lower-quality traffic in return. While mimicking the IPA, they conceal the proper location and identity of the scammer.

Threats Caused by Geomasking

Like other ad fraud techniques, masking is used to carry out click fraud, impression fraud, subscription fraud, lead fraud, etc. This method drains ad budget quickly.


Knowing the ad fraud technique you are dealing with helps you understand how to protect your brand and business best. Some advertisers manually protect themselves from ad fraud and its effects. However, you must note that manually protecting your webpage from ad fraud is not the most effective way. The most effective and secure way to protect your brand from ad fraud is to use ad fraud prevention solutions that will protect your website from ad fraud and deal with the effect of ad fraud on your website.

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