Abisola Tanzako | Sep 20, 2023

Like other spheres of the economy where large amounts of money are moved around, the online advertising world is lucrative and makes fraudsters interested. Due to the type of transactions, the non-transparent supply chain, and easily fiddled metrics, ad fraud is one of the largest challenges publishers, advertisers, and overall ad tech enterprises face today. 

To expand issues even further, mobile ad fraud opens up a new level of sophistication for fraudsters, enabling them access to wreak havoc on advertisers’ budgets. Ignoring the fraud metrics can cost you much more of your advertising budget. Ad and mobile fraud are problems, but how far-reaching can they be? Let’s dive into the top ad fraud statistics.

Major Ad Fraud Statistics

  • Ad fraud’s total cost in 2022 will be about $68 billion, predicted to rise to $100 billion in 2023.
  • As of 2022, the most significant hit region is Asia Pacific, with about $75 billion.
  • Reports given by Interceptd say about 25% of iOS app installs are fraudulent, while about 31% of Android app installs are fraudulent.
  • Reports given by Adobe in 2018 say the total ad spent is about 28% or equivalent to about $66 billion.
  • The fraud attempt is about 25% lower for in-app ads than on the web.
  • According to BussinessofApp, in 2018 click injection contributed about 30% of the total ad fraud, while click farm and spam& ad stacking contributed 42% and 27%, respectively.
  • Reports given by Juniper estimate one in every 13 app download is fraudulent globally.

Above are some essential statistics describing the digital ad fraud state for both web and mobile. We will further discuss statistics on the cost of ad fraud, its impact on ad fraud by region, mobile OS, and app category, and advice on how to handle ad fraud.

Cost Of Ad Fraud

The estimated cost of ad fraud differs due to the complexities of ascertaining the number of invalid downloads and traffic. Let’s examine some of the statistics below:

  • In 2016, the World Federation of Advertisers presumed that ad fraud and all other internet fraud would be 2nd biggest organized crime after the drug trade in a decade. Conservatively by 2025, the level standing of ad fraud would have increased to 50 billion dollars.
  • In 2018, it was reported by Adobe that about 28% of web traffic was a result of bots and other non-human players across the board of a very sizable number of client websites. A commentator estimated the total cost of ad fraud to be as high as $66 billion. This increase may be due to the ease of using ad fraud to cause invalid traffic that delivers a high return.
  • Jupiter’s research through traffic guard reported that 7.7% of apps installed are from something other than genuine users. This source also estimated ad publishers who display millions of ads over 24 hours will most likely pay about 100,000 fake ads before any fraudulent activity is detected.
  • In 2019, it was reported by eMarketer that the total cost of ad fraud estimates varies from about $6.5 billion to about $19 billion. This estimate is said to be conservative. According to the same source, in 2022, display ads will cover about $15 billion in businesses and cover about 90% of all digital advertisements. This implies that ad fraud threats are a more pressing issue for publishers.

Cumulatively, the estimate of ad fraud over the past couple of years has increased by $10 billion yearly, and it has started to double yearly by $20 billion. In 2023 alone, ad fraud is estimated to be about $100 billion. The estimated cost of ad fraud worldwide runs to $billion from years 2018-2023.

Impact Of Digital Ad Fraud By Region

The Asian Pacific region (APAC) suffers from the pronounced effect of digital ad fraud, with an estimate of $17 million each day and constantly opening up means of penetration for mobile and digital ad fraud in this region. Based on predictions, digital ad fraud will continue to increase and still have Asian Pacific at the forefront of the fraud hit, with deep losses doubling in price from about $33 billion to about $75 billion.

In 2019, as stated earlier, Jupiter Research and traffic guard came together to build a total percentage of ad fraud in various regions.

With China as the largest APAC region, for every $63 million spent on digital ad fraud by them, they lose $11 million per year to ad fraud which is about 17% of what is spent on advertising. As for the United States, for every $407 million spent on ads, they lose $62 million per year to ad fraud, about 15% of the total amount spent on advertising. For Africa and the Middle East, for every $19 million spent on ads, they lose ‘just’ $1 million to ad fraud, about 5% of the total amount spent on advertising. This is quite considerable when compared to China and the United States.

Digital Ad Fraud By Mobile OS 

In 2019, Interceptd (a mobile ad fraud prevention and detection company) reported that Android users suffer more than iOS users when it comes to digital ad fraud, with about 31% ad fraud traffic on Android as compared to the 25% ad fraud that happens on iOS.

Ad Fraud On Android

It was also reported in Intercepted statistics that some types of apps are more vulnerable to ad fraud than others. Finance apps are the most susceptible apps to be affected by fraud, with gaming, social media, and shopping following through. The apps are usually attacked by bots (which are responsible for about a third of ad fraud) and click injection( which are responsible for about a further quarter of ad fraud)

Ad Fraud On iOS

For iOS, the finance app ranks third among the most vulnerable apps to ad fraud, but the app that comes first is the shopping app, with about a third of the app installed, followed closely by gaming apps next to the travel apps. Bots take up about 26% of the ad fraud on iOS, SDK spoofing about 18%, and phone farm about 22%.

How To Deal With Ad Fraud

Several digital ad fraud prevention software companies offer services to reduce and prevent the effect of ad fraud and prevent it. Beyond that, there are better business and technical practices that will help improve communication between publishers and advertisers.  

Forbes published a series of solutions that can potentially help mitigate the exorbitant cost of digital ad fraud. They include.

  • As a publisher, working with companies that guarantee services that are fraud-free is another way to hold back the biting effect of ad fraud.
  • As a company, you are admonished to have internal policies that help cut ad fraud costs and monitor closely to catch any abnormal activity on your website.
  • As an advertiser, pay much more attention to performance than clicks.
  • Language inserts help publishers identify all sorts of third-party traffic.
  • Direct conversations between advertisers and publishers (preferably face-to-face) can also help reduce the risk of ad fraud. This reduces the number of activities in a particular ad.

Conclusion

Ad fraud remains a persistent and concerning issue in the digital advertising industry. The staggering statistics surrounding ad fraud demonstrate its detrimental impact on businesses, advertisers, and the overall integrity of the ecosystem. With the increasing complexity of fraudulent techniques and the constant evolution of technology, combating ad fraud requires a multi-faceted approach involving proactive monitoring, advanced detection algorithms, industry collaboration, and strict enforcement of standards. As the industry continues to innovate and implement robust preventive measures, it is crucial to remain vigilant, adapt to emerging threats, and foster transparency and trust to mitigate the adverse effects of ad fraud and ensure a more secure and sustainable advertising landscape.

 

Abisola Tanzako | Sep 06, 2023

Do you need to block VPN traffic?

The use of VPNs has become increasingly popular with each passing year. This is because there is a rise in privacy awareness, and everyone is learning to protect themselves on the internet. However, only some people using VPNs have good intentions; it can be used as a tool to harm your ad campaigns and make you lose a lot of money. 

Let’s talk about how a VPN can affect your Google ad, how to block traffic from a VPN, and how to protect your revenue and business.

What is VPN?

VPN means virtual Private Network. A VPN is software that hides a computer system’s IP (internet protocol address). That means VPN users can surf the internet anonymously because all the data left on various sites while surfing will not be traced or linked to them. People have justifiable reasons why they use VPNs these days, and of course, some people use VPNs for malicious reasons.

Some people may want to hide their identity while browsing freely on the net if they live under an oppressive regime that hinders them from doing so. Some other people may wish to deceive service providers, such as YouTube, Netflix, etc., into thinking they are accessing their service from a location different from their original location to give them complete access. 

These are justifiable reasons why anyone would use VPN because that will hardly pose a threat. However, due to the anonymity provided by VPN users, fraudulent people have taken advantage of that to engage in various sinister activities. These sinister activities include movie and music piracy, illegal pornography distribution, and other fraudulent activities like click fraud.

Are all VPN traffic fraudulent?

No, not all VPN traffic is fraudulent. We all know someone who uses VPN for protection or discretionary purposes, which is why most people consider VPN an excellent tool for actual goals, which it is, but fraudulent people would continue using the software to carry out their fraudulent activities.

Should I block VPN traffic on my Google ads?

As previously mentioned, not all VPN traffic is fraudulent or will engage in illegal activities, so the question of whether or not to block out all VPN traffic is tricky. This is because some people genuinely worry about their online privacy.

Some feel uncomfortable with the amount of data required by most service providers, especially those from oppressive and invasive countries. However, even though these people contribute to the number of genuine users, based on statistics, most VPN users have malicious intent.

Note that your ad relies on people clicking and purchasing your goods and services. Those who click on your ad without purchasing your goods or services make you lose money. It is essential to note the notion that those using VPNs non-maliciously do so because of their online privacy concerns. If they have such concerns about online privacy, they may have concerns about online purchases.

Anyone concerned about their online privacy is likely to have an issue with sharing their bank details, address, name, phone number, and others to purchase something online. In this case, it is safe to ban all VPN users. The potential damage caused by click fraud far outweighs the benefits that can come from a few VPN users’ legitimate views. It could be a tough call, but it is better to block them all out when the stakes are high. 

How do I block out VPN traffic on my Google ad?

The best way to block out VPN traffic is through click fraud prevention software. This is because the IP address of VPN users can be changed as many times as they want, automatically making blocking specific IP addresses difficult, if not impossible. 

One way to help is to block all countries outside your Google ad target audience. This way, you can reduce the chances of ad molestation by fraudsters. However, if their VPN is good, they would have no difficulty switching from one IP address to another within the same country. As this method is inadequate, the best way is to use fraud protection and prevention software.

With ClickPatrol, you can easily block all VPN traffic from accessing your ads in one click. Fraudsters using VPNs and other tools to carry out their fraudulent activities can be spotted quickly by ClickPatrol, even with their masked identities, and blocked before they harm your business, saving you the money you would have lost.

How do I spot VPN traffic?

By now, you already know that is a tricky thing to do. It is tough to identify VPN traffic because IP addresses and locations can change in a few seconds, and their users can switch servers as quickly as switching shoes. 

So one thing fraudsters can’t change as easily or as quickly as their IP address or location is their phone, which leaves a footprint of their presence.

Some special fraud prevention software like ClickPatrol scans IP addresses for over 800 characteristics that gives an accurate detection of a VPN device regardless of location change.

Conclusion 

While blocking VPN traffic from clicking on your Google ads is a potential solution to prevent fraudulent activity, it is a complex and challenging task. Implementing a blanket ban on VPN traffic could inadvertently exclude legitimate users and hinder advertising reach. Additionally, identifying and blocking VPN traffic is difficult due to obfuscation techniques and dynamic IP addresses. Instead, focusing on other strategies, such as click fraud detection systems and monitoring user behaviour, is recommended. Balancing security measures and maintaining a positive user experience while adhering to Google’s advertising guidelines is essential.

Abisola Tanzako | Aug 09, 2023

Online advertising is a big deal! Over $330 billion was estimated to be spent on digital advertising platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook in 2019. According to research done by CHEQ in 2020, the amount wasted on ad fraud was $35 billion, which is projected to increase in the coming years. This implies that such a large portion of the advertising pie is being eaten up by ad fraud.

Running a successful Google Ads campaign is hard work. Beyond getting your campaigns up and running, managing them, and running conversion optimization tests, there is still a possibility that you have to deal with ad fraud, even if you’re doing everything by the book.

Search Engine Journal recently reported that 11% of the search ad clicks and 36% of the display ad clicks were fraudulent or invalid after examining nearly 1 billion ad clicks and 100 billion data points. Another estimate puts ad fraud costs in the US alone at about $13.8 billion in 2020.

The question of how to prevent Google Ads fraud is not new, but as digital advertising budgets increase and the demand for solutions increases, so do the ways to combat it.

In this article, we will be discussing Ad fraud and the best way to tackle it.

What is Ad Fraud?

Ad fraud is the attempt to defraud any digital advertising or ad tech platform for monetary gain. The various types of ad fraud will make publishers or advertisers think that increased activity on their ads is from genuine users when it is from fake users whose ultimate goal is to drain the revenue of advertisers.

As mentioned earlier, there are various ways in which fraudsters carry out ad fraud. Some of these methods include:

  • Hidden ads: this ad is displayed so the users don’t see it. This fraud targets ad networks that generate revenue based on impressions (views), not clicks.
  • Click hijacking: In this fraud, attackers redirect the clicks on one ad to a different ad, successfully stealing the clicks. For this attack to work, the fraudster has to find a way to compromise the ad publisher’s webpage, the user’s computer, or a proxy server.
  • Fake app installation: ads are displayed within applications, especially on mobile apps. For this fraud style, a group of people (mostly click farms) mostly- a click farm is a group of people who are paid lowly to click continuously on targeted ads at the instruction of a fraudster) interact with an installed app multiple times.
  • Botnet ad fraud: fraudsters use botnets to generate thousands of clicks on an ad. Bot-driven ad fraud works in the following ways:
    • Fraudsters use click bots to generate fake clicks on their ads to generate income.
    • Click bots are created to imitate real users and are often distributed across devices in a botnet—a botnet is a group of devices a fraudster has compromised. This way, when they click on an ad, they appear like a real user since the clicks come from different IPAs.

How does Ad Fraud affect your Ads?

If you have ever wondered if ad fraud affects the industry you belong to, then the answer is yes, it does. If your industry is competitive in Google ads and pay-per-click searches, then the likelihood of experiencing ad fraud is higher.

You may ask, How much would ad fraud cost you? There are several factors to consider to be sure how much ad fraud costs you, but on average, it could cost you 10-12% of your ad budget. For instance, if your monthly ad budget is $10,000, you could be wasting up to $1500 on ad fraud each month. 

Google and other search engines have established structures to help defend its ad system against invalid activity. Still, it is not doing enough to curb the effect of ad fraud and is also putting a lot of responsibility on advertisers/publishers to monitor and prevent fraud from invading their ads.

Effects of ad fraud on your campaign

Here are some of the effects of ad fraud on your campaign

  • Unnecessary charges: the most detrimental effect of ad fraud is the excessive charges that come with it. If curbed quickly, it could save your campaigns’ budgets.  
  • Flawed business insight: when your Google campaign is infested by ad fraud, it lacks business insight. The data you are presented with is counterfeit, affecting any data-driven decision you want to make. This fake data usually harms your campaign metrics, as it will steer your plan in the wrong direction.
  • Exhausting future ad budget: it is no news that ad fraud will run out of your current campaign budget, but apart from that, the data you receive is manipulated, influencing your future marketing strategy. As a result of this distorted data, your future campaign budget could be better spent. 
  • Reaching the daily limit of a campaign: many people and companies place a daily limit on their pay-per-click ads. When fraudulent activities are active on your page, you reach their daily limit quickly without benefiting your business. Your ad is removed once your limit is gone and your competitors surface in place of yours.

The truth is, without a solid solution to ad fraud, the fraudulent activities on your campaigns will cause so much damage to your business and have long-term damage to your company’s ROI and overall growth.

Ad fraud prevention

The most effective and efficient way to protect your ad campaign from all the various forms of ad fraud is by using fraud protection software such as ClickPatrol

How does fraud protection software work?

A standard fraud protection software should be able to use:

  •  Algorithm to analyze active data points and determine if they are legitimate or illegitimate activities.
  • Determine if an IP address is fraudulent or not, immediately block those that are fraudulent, and stop them from clicking on your ad from now on.

With some of these features and more, you can get a cleaner ad campaign, less waste, and a better ROI.

Do note that no single fraud detection software can eliminate ALL ad fraud. You must identify the specific need before getting detection software. 

Can I prevent ad fraud Myself?

Yes, You can try. But be prepared for quite a tedious, time-consuming, Sisyphean task of monitoring every click and steadily adding IP addresses to your filtering. Not only is this method extremely intensive, but it is just the type of work better suited to a software algorithm.

Beyond the proficiency factor of ClickPatrol, we also have a growing global blacklist of suspicious accounts and IPA to protect you and your campaign better. These are associated with botnets, click farms or other types of threats that we block before a click can occur.

Abisola Tanzako | Jul 12, 2023

Fraudsters online must be secretive if they want to constantly get away with fraudulent activities, such as web scraping, ad jacking, etc. To beat the multiple security checks that various website owners put in place to protect their websites, fraudsters are tasked with mimicking the behaviour of a genuine site visitor.

One famous way fraudsters and hackers get this done is through a proxy, which helps them disguise their fraudulent identity, making their traffic look less suspicious and harmless. But proxies are not essentially malicious; real users who are not malicious will often use a proxy or VPN for online privacy protection.

How can a website owner tell if a proxy user on their website is a fraudulent visitor or a legitimate visitor? First, let’s understand the meaning of proxies, how they work, how to detect them, and ultimately how to block them. We will also talk about how fraudsters take advantage of proxies and how to know if proxy traffic on your website is valid or not.

Understanding The Term Proxy And Its Types

What Is A Proxy?

A proxy software tool acts as a middleman between different devices. A proxy has its IP address, meaning users can obfuscate their location and identity.

A proxy can be used for many purposes, such as gaining access to content from different countries, avoiding restrictions placed on particular regions, screening downloads, filtering web content, and providing anonymity. Certain kinds of proxy (e.g., VPN) provide a security gateway to corporate networks in the business world.

But of course, this tool, as you can imagine, has become invaluable to fraudsters and hackers. They leverage this tool to mask their fraudulent activities, making it difficult to catch them. For instance, one famous case study uses a proxy in a click fraud attack, where the IPA is constantly changed to mimic a genuine user’s click on an ad.

Kind Of Proxies 

Although there are different kinds of proxy servers, such as transparent proxies, forward proxies, data centre proxies, etc., proxies are divided into three large umbrellas, which all the other kinds fit into. They are VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), and web proxies.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a common proxy that directs all network traffic to and from a specific device and encrypts the traffic. See a VPN as an encrypted tunnel where all incoming and outgoing traffic is secured. VPNs are used by business owners and personal users looking to secure the traffic happening on their sites and are keen on privacy, respectively. As usual, they are leveraged by fraudulent people who want to mask their fraudulent activities.

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a group of proxy servers spread out across the internet to provide superior availability and performance compared to other singular servers. The Delivery Network is a highly widespread tool for genuine business reasons. For instance, a web owner has users in various locations who can use the Content Delivery Network to aid faster content delivery. Unfortunately, fake actors can hijack the CDN to commit malicious activities, such as delivering malware.

Web Proxy  

A web proxy is also known as a public proxy. It is a server that provides a gateway between users and the broader internet. A web proxy also has its IPA (identified by your computer); when traffic goes to the internet, it is directed through the web proxy, which gets a response from a server and then directs the data back to your browser.

We have software and hardware web proxies. A cloud service provider hosts a software proxy, while the hardware is the physical server between your internet and your network.

How Do Fraudsters Take Advantage Of Proxies?

The primary reason why fraudsters, hackers, and botnets use proxies is to mask their identity and their location. Still, of course, we have more sophisticated fraudsters who do not just use them to mask their identity and location but for more complex uses that can cause a devastating effect.

For ad fraud, servers that have VPNs can direct traffic from click framing and botnets to a website mimicking genuine users through the rapidly changing IPAs. Proxies can also allow fraudsters to access specific desirable regions (such as Europe and North America) with high PPC rates, translating to high rewards for fraud.

The level of sophistication of this proxy use can vary. Some fraudsters use spoofing a US IPA, while others use residential proxy services to fake other details such as devices or networks. For instance, a browser originally from Asia could disguise itself as a mobile device with a 5G connection from America.

Looking at it from a business standpoint, a ‘casual’ proxy user can pose a significant issue. Proxies skew marketing data, prevent remarking efforts, and disrupt fingerprint browsers.

Are All Proxies Traffic Invalid?

As mentioned earlier, some people use proxies for justifiable reasons, and millions of people use them all across the world daily. 

To properly categorize the proxy traffic on your webpage and protect your site from fraudulent traffic, it is best to categorize questionable and unidentifiable traffic under suspicious sources instead of blocking them out immediately. The truth is there are various reasons why a user will choose to use a proxy to hide their identity and location. Yes, the intention could be harmless, but if the user’s traffic isn’t allowed to convert because of the barrier, you have to either monitor or eventually block the traffic. Please note that even though you have no malicious anonymous traffic, using a proxy can skew ad data and provide misguiding information.

How To Detect And Block Proxy Traffic

So, how can you detect and block proxy traffic? Firstly, it is always best to identify whether proxy traffic is terrible and should be blocked or just suspicious traffic. To analyze customer traffic, there are a series of best practices to follow in determining what to do and how to handle proxy traffic best. These steps are best done with a detailed security platform but can still be done manually with a reasonable amount of time and effort.

Monitor Your Website’s Traffic

It is pertinent to monitor the domains of users accessing your site closely. If you receive unusually high clicks from an unusual location, that is a good sign that your ad campaign is targeted for fraud. When you notice this increase in usual traffic, search your server log for suspicious IPAs and add them to your block list. 

Inspect The Packet Header For Suspicious Data

A skilled user can also inspect the packet header for supporting information. The information in the title is a lot, such as browser version, type, and OS. If you get a lot of clicks from the same IPA but a different browser or OS, then there is a high possibility that the IPA is a proxy and should be blocked or redirected depending on your use case or industry. If you intend to grant all proxy users free access to your website but want to keep fraudulent users out, you can search for giveaways like Linux use and outdated browsers to narrow your blocking. 

Search For Misinterpretation

To identify further, search for areas where users misinterpret themselves. For instance, if it shows that a user is using a mobile device, the packet header indicates that it is a browser extension. It is safe to conclude that users are faking their information because mobile phones don’t use extensions.

All the abovementioned methods can help you identify whether proxy traffic has fraudulent intent or is just from a user who is particular about their online privacy. With this, you can adjust your block list accordingly.

Get Fraud Detection Software 

All of the above methods can be very intense, and that is because manually trying to detect if proxy traffic is fraudulent or not can be very time-consuming and, in some extreme cases, may need help to provide a solution. To be intentional about getting malicious activities from your website, you need fraud detection software such as ClickPatrol that can do a comprehensive search on your website. This will help automatically detect and block every form of invalid traffic and provide you with extra insight into marketing analytics. 

Good security software will help evaluate website traffic in real-time, identify if the traffic is genuine or suspicious, and take necessary actions to redirect or block the user.

Should You Block Proxy Traffic?

Blocking proxy traffic from clicking on your Google ads is crucial to ensuring the accuracy and effectiveness of your ad campaigns. Implementing the right strategies can help you prevent fraudulent clicks and preserve your ad budget. Utilizing tools like Google Analytics and third-party click fraud prevention services can assist in identifying suspicious IP addresses and blocking them. Additionally, geo-targeting can limit your ad exposure to specific regions, reducing the chances of proxy traffic interference. By actively monitoring and taking proactive measures, you can minimize the impact of proxy traffic and optimize the performance of your Google ads.

Abisola Tanzako | Jun 14, 2023

We are delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new feature we’ve worked on for a few months; The ClickPatrol.com Display Placement Insights and Reports.

Display placement ads are a low-hanging fruit for brand awareness and retargeting. However, they are just as susceptible to invalid clicks as search ads.

With the display insights reports on clickpatrol.com, you have more control over the websites where your ads are displayed. You can access the click analysis from each website, including websites with the most suspicious clicks.

How to Use the Display Placement Insights on clickPatrol.com

  1. Find websites and block websites with fraudulent traffic

With the display placement insights, you can easily spot websites that supply your ads with fraudulent clicks and block them on ClickPatrol.com and Google ads

  1. Optimize your placements on published websites

By clicking on the link to the publisher’s website, you can view how your ads appear and further optimize for the position, text, and overall placement appearance.

  1. Export Report And Use data On Google ads

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Reports can easily be exported in CSV, cleaned and used to further optimize websites where your placements are published. You can filter for high-performing websites and have your placements on them or filter for low-performing/or fraudulent websites and stop your ads from showing on them.

With the Display insights, you have more control over how and where your placements are shown and the quality of traffic that gets to them. You can optimize your display placements in a few clicks for maximum results.

How to Find Display Placement Insights

  • Log in to your ClickPatrol.com dashboard
  • Click on Reports
  • Navigate to placements
  • Click on Placements to view Insights

Watch the short video below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-2LDDYqLNQ

Abisola Tanzako | Jun 07, 2023

It’s always a delight to know that your business in the digital space is growing- that both customer and payment are flowing in as they should, but unfortunately and inevitably, fraudsters do what they know how to do best. They target ads with various fraudulent activities. The industry that deals with fraud management is growing and is projected to grow to about $ 38 billion in 2025; this implies that advertisers and publishers are willing to invest in protecting their ads.

These fraudulent activities can take various forms and shapes. It could be stolen credit card details, invalid clicks, accounts, or other fraudulent activity. Regardless of the case outcome, the publisher or advertisers usually pay for these fraudulent activities’ effect on their revenue and more.

What Are Fraud Detection Software

Fraud detection software is designed specially to help investigate, monitor, and block fraudulent activities on your web page. This software is used to stop various fraudulent activities such as stolen identity and so on. A standard fraud prevention software platform will have a framework that: 

  • Investigates: fraud detection software helps to develop a full and clear picture of the risk liable to individual users. That can be done either manually (during manual reviews) or automatically. Further investigation is done based on the data available during monitoring.
  • Monitors: fraud detection software helps give an extensive data analysis on users while using your website. An example of the data provided is the specific IP address or even the type of phone they use.
  • Block: after monitoring and investigation, the software automatically blocks or allows users as necessary based on the set risk rules. Depending on the risk, you can determine the likelihood of fraud.

Fraud Detection Software Features

No matter the digital space you find yourself in, getting the best ad fraud detection software includes considering some features that may or may not be important to addressing your fraud problem. For it to be determined as a risk management software, it has to cover a number of important bases, such as identity verification and chargeback prevention. Below are examples of the important feature:

  • Risk rules: this is an important feature for any fraud detection software. The risk rules help to filter actions carried out by users based on the found data. An example of a risk rule is; if a VPN owns an IPA, block the attempt on the login.
  • Risk scoring: this allows or rejects the actions of users. The software program gives the score of how risky a fraud is. For instance, if you have a customer interaction from a different country from their payment details, their risk score is increased by 5 points. 
  • Real-time monitoring: a good ad fraud detection software must be able to monitor in real-time the payment that goes on your website to block immediately any suspicious activities before it costs you so much.
  • Machine learning engine: an excellent ad detection software should have an ML algorithm that will help with risk rules suggestions based on data. In some cases, if it is a white box system, it also allows you to find reasons behind the risk rules.

 The ClickPatrol software

The ClickPatrol software is a click fraud detection software that screens every single click on your PPC campaign. Our Algorithm screens clicks based on a set of well-defined set of criteria.

This criterion is made up of 800 IP and fingerprint characteristics that are checked for every click. These characteristics are based on the peculiarity of your campaign.

They include location, type of device, device software, number of times they have visited your campaign, etc. 

These characteristics have a standard for genuine valid clicks.  Fraudulent clicks have one or more deviations from the standard (red flags).

A value is assigned for each deviation, a maximum value after which a click is flagged, and a threshold value, after which a click is blocked.

For example, if a campaign which is running in the US and in desktop only, gets a click from a mobile device in India, the click is flagged and may be blocked, depending on how much of a variation it displays.

Our software Algorithm uses traffic data collected over several years from multiple sources to determine what characteristics need to be checked and how much deviation should be recorded as fraudulent.

Clicks are only blocked if we are confident they are Unwanted.

Blocked clicks are determined based on the history of an IP, as well as its fingerprint.

Why should you choose the ClickPatrol tool?

  1. Users have complete control.

Our clients can fully customize the API and maximize their experience.

You can choose to only monitor your campaigns and not make updates to google; you can also decide how aggressively you want to track and block fraudulent or unwanted clicks.

Users can also manually review blocked IPs, whitelist, and blacklist where necessary.

  1. Supports all Google Campaigns

Our tool supports all forms of Google ads campaigns including;

✔ Google Pmax,

✔ Google Search ads,

✔ Google Display ads,

✔ Apps (We exclude traffic on account level),

✔ Google Shopping Advertising,

✔ Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Users can also exclude certain on campaigns on their ad accounts from being monitored.

  1. Monitor Traffic Quality With In-depth Reporting and Insights.

Our reports tell you exactly what kind of traffic comes to your website. We share unique insights based on our data points unavailable via the ad network. All data can be exported, analyzed, and used to make informed marketing decisions. 

In Summary,

The development and implementation of ad fraud detection software has become crucial in the modern digital advertising landscape. With the rising prevalence of fraudulent activities and the potential loss of revenue for businesses, this software plays a crucial role in ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of online advertising campaigns. 

By employing advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, ad fraud detection software such as ClickPatrol.com can identify and prevent fraudulent impressions, clicks, and conversions, thereby safeguarding the investments made by advertisers. 

Moreover, it enables businesses to optimize their advertising strategies and allocate resources more efficiently, increasing transparency, trust, and, ultimately, better outcomes for advertisers and consumers. As the digital advertising industry grows, the continuous enhancement of ad fraud detection software will remain pivotal in maintaining a fair and trustworthy ecosystem for all stakeholders involved.

Abisola Tanzako | May 31, 2023

What does digital ad fraud mean?

Digital ad fraud is often described as intentionally jumbling and misrepresenting ad engagement metrics. This fraud is committed by fake traffic from both humans and bots- that generate fake impressions and, in turn, affect the click-through rate (CTR). This invalid clicks from bots drain the resources spent on the ad and significantly affect the publisher’s effort to grow a quality ad inventory. This non-human traffic also distorts the analytics of the webpage and affects the overall marketing campaign.

Additionally, publishers’ brand reputations are always hurt due to this invalid traffic. Verification reports and quality scores of the website are also impacted negatively. Currently, most security measures to filter bot activities from human activities could be more optimal. 

How Serious Is Ad Fraud?

In 2015, Google decided to take steps to combat ad fraud; their backlist filter removed 8.9% of invalid clicks in the double-click campaign alone. From that time to this present moment, the fraud problem has significantly increased. Reports suggest that the sale of programmatic ad buys is about 37% of click fraud.

According to research by Juniper, as of 2022, advertisers lost up to $68 billion on ad fraud around the globe. This statistic shows that this issue is not going away soon enough; instead, fraudsters are becoming more upgraded and sophisticated in their approach. Big brands such as Unilever, Financial Times, and New UK have taken steps to reduce their budget on ads and monitor fraud. P&G (Proctor and Gamble) have reportedly reduced the amount they spend on advertisement by about $700 million and cut off half of the agencies they work with to minimize ad fraud’s effect.

One of the biggest targets of digital ad fraud will be video ads because of its streaming media services. Much ad fraud happens over the programmed marketplace, especially display ads, but the truth is that ad fraud exists on all digital platforms whether we know it or not. One primary industry that remains vulnerable to ad fraud is app stores because they offer a more sophisticated audience feature, unlike Google, Facebook, etc. It has become effortless for fraudsters to manipulate the proposition of most of these apps because they mostly use CPI (cost per install).

Ad fraud affects everyone and cuts off trust across the entire advertisement chain. For publishers, their customer retention rate is lowered due to poor performance; for advertisers, they get ad blockers; and the website suffers because genuine users look for alternative platforms because of their bad experience. Overall, ad fraud has a substantial negative impact on all sides.

Types Of Ad Fraud

While most people think that ad fraud is committed by bots alone, several ad frauds are committed by ad publishers and agencies. Most ad fraud is achieved by:

  • Bot clicks and impressions
  • Ads that real users do not view
  • Ad publishers who buy traffic or deliberately use the platform to misrepresent performance and data

Ad fraud that real people commit is the most difficult to detect because while the impression and clicks may be fake, it is carried out by actual users. Unfortunately, most ad verification software won’t notice or blacklist them because they are technically ‘real users’.

Let’s talk about the various type of digital ad fraud:

Ghost sites

Fraudsters create fake websites to stand as the host on ad platforms and programmatic exchanges. When you post an ad on a ghost site, the fraudulent bot comes to play and performs click fraud, generating fake clicks or impressions, which then pay the fraudster based on cost per click.

Traffic sourcing

These fraudsters have developed a bot that can pretend to be an actual human and generate human traffic. This fake traffic is sold in bulk to publishers who are unaware at a very cheap rate.

Domain spoofing

In this type of fraud, a poor-quality or irrelevant website is intentionally misinterpreted as a high-value website. This way, fraudsters gain far more than the unrelated site commands typically. The fraudster will then flood the low-quality website with bots and divert the revenue.

Ad stacking

This method generates various impressions from a single web page by stocking (as the name implies) multiple ads on each other. While only the top ad can be seen, the other unseen ad is also counted as an impression.

Pixel stuffing

For this type of fraud, the number of ads that can be on the website is multiplied vastly. The ads are stuffed into a single pixel, making them invisible to humans.

Ad injection

Here fraudsters inject ads into a site unknown to the publisher or without the publisher’s approval. This injected ad can pop up anywhere. It can pop up under, over, or even replace the existing ad (similarly to ad stacking). This kind of ad fraud affects the publisher’s viewability score and brand.

Ways To Combat Ad Fraud

You can employ various ways to fight ad fraud and its overall effect on your website. Here are some of them:

Employ Tools For Ad Verification  

If you have decided to use a private network, employing a third-party audit provider is essential. Sometimes, advertisers use multiple third-party verifiers to audit those private platforms. So third-party providers make their analytics research and performance available for ad agencies that indicate accurate results instead of fake ones. They also provide a filter to pick out fraudulent activities in real time before draining your ad budget.

Measure Conversions, Not Just Clicks

Consider switching your focus to more actionable metrics; instead of focusing on clicks, focus on conversions or lead forms. This doesn’t mean you should be extra paranoid about clicks but be vigilant because bot activities can easily manipulate clicks. This method should be used for open marketplace primarily, but it can also be considered for other platforms like Instagram.

Use Trusted Platform Only 

Most people focus on traditional advertising platforms like Facebook, but platforms like this should be used at your discretion. Until these platforms can fix the general ad fraud issues, it is crucial to be proactive by tracking and blocking ad fraud before they drain your ad.

Don’t Rely On Machines and Agencies

Take control of your campaigns by implementing your policies for manual review. If you are working with a third party, it is crucial to demand transparency on their processes to ensure that you both share the same values regarding ad fraud. It is never wholly or compelling enough to manually review your website performance without employing third-party ad trackers, but implementing your manual review helps create a repeatable process and ensures that your chances of being subjected to ad fraud are reduced drastically.

Take Advantage Of Big Data Analytics 

When you compare your fake traffic to that of other campaign analytics, you get a better understanding of how ad fraud works. Taking advantage of these big analytics, you get to know how to tailor your ad so that chances of being hit by invalid clicks are reduced. This way, you can learn to implement more vital ad fraud prevention practices that, in turn, strengthen your ad and allows you to have a better result for your clients.

Ultimately every advertiser and internet user is prone to be a victim of the scourge of ad fraud flying around. While new technologies are available to combat ad fraud, it is still the ultimate responsibility of advertisers to protect themselves and their interests. Without duly educating yourself on this issue of ad fraud, you have opened yourself widely to be a target of ad fraud, which means that you will suffer the effects of ad fraud.

Conclusion 

Digital ad fraud remains a significant challenge in the online advertising industry. The prevalence of fraudulent activities, such as bot traffic, click fraud, and ad stacking, poses a severe threat to advertisers’ investments and the overall trust in digital advertising. While industry stakeholders and technology advancements have made strides in combating ad fraud, it continues to evolve and adapt, requiring ongoing vigilance and innovative solutions.

To mitigate the risks of digital ad fraud, advertisers must prioritize implementing robust fraud detection and prevention measures. This includes leveraging sophisticated fraud detection tools, employing third-party verification services, and establishing transparent partnerships with reputable publishers and ad networks. Additionally, industry collaborations and information sharing among advertisers, publishers, and ad tech providers are essential to staying ahead of fraudulent practices. 

By collectively addressing this issue, the digital advertising ecosystem can work towards creating a safer and more trustworthy environment for advertisers and ensuring that ad spend generates genuine engagement and delivers real value.

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. 

Bots 

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

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.

Botnets

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 

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

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.

Conclusion

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.

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.

Abisola Tanzako | May 10, 2023

If you’ve dealt with ad fraud before, then you already know  have, then you will know how pervasive bots in general can be. Viewbot drains the advertiser’s budget by unintentionally targeting video adverts or paid banners. Viewbots are invented to create fake engagement on streaming platforms like TikTok, Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, etc. Viewbots cause havoc for video advertisers’ online campaigns.

What Is Viewbot?

Viewbots are bad bots. They target video ads, watching them repeatedly with no intention to purchase. Other times, these bad bots are created to watch videos on online platforms or live streams resulting in fake views. They are used mainly by those who stream and want to propel themselves to a visible place on the online leaderboard to gain visibility and exposure and ultimately earn more views, likes, and subscribers.

Viewbotting is used across various online platforms, including Youtube, live gaming, Twitch, music streaming media and Metaverse platforms. The idea behind using a view bot is very similar to click farms. The intention of view bot and click farm is to increase impressions and boost engagement, but the difference is that while click farm generates fake clicks, view bots generate fake views.

Why Is Viewbotting So Popular?

Twitch is an online streaming platform with about 30 million active users daily; recognizing the potential of this platform allows advertisers to increase their investment in content creators and influencers and do all they can to reach a specific audience, especially with the Genz generation. 

With the growth of video content, video marketing, and influencer marketing, some content creators have been found to use viewbots to increase views on brand content.

What Does Viewbotting Mean For Advertisers?

An advertiser can be negatively impacted when running video ad campaigns on a view-botted channel. 

Viewbots are cheap, and in most cases, many offer free trials. They are easy to use, access and implement. With this available, content creators and channel owners can purchase a lot of views; these viewbots increase the view count on both the content and the paid ads on display.

Although the intention behind view bots is usually dishonest, view bots are not yet illegal. 

As engagement of Viewbot increases, so does it rise to the contribution of a more significant fraud problem. Viewbot fraud and other advertising fraud issues have been estimated to be about 100 billion dollars in 2023.

Why Is Viewbotting Harmful To Your Ads?

Advertisers often need to know how greatly view bots can distort their efforts. Below are some of the effects that viewbots can have on your ad campaign as an advertiser:

  • Viewbotting leads to huge revenue loss for advertisers

Your revenue can be stolen if a view bot is on a channel while you run an ad campaign as an advertiser. When a video or live stream is viewed by a viewbot (including the paid ads), advertisers indirectly pay the influencer, content creator, or platform for fake views.  

  • Viewbotting generates false impressions.

Viewbot increases engagement metrics artificially, creating unpleasant advertiser-influencer partnerships. The usual process for advertisers is to vet influencers, content creators, or channels that best suit their ad campaign. It may not be immediately apparent to advertisers that view bots are deployed to pad-up popularity statistics; sadly, they become vulnerable to the influencer/ channels that would not provide them with any return on investment (ROI). 

It could be that the owner of the track is using view bots intentionally, or view bots have unknowingly infiltrated their channel; whatever the case may be, the advertiser becomes betrayed with a bad investment to deal with.

  • Viewbotting will suddenly distort campaign analytics.

Since view bots can generate a lot of views, your ad campaign metrics can appear better, much more than they usually are. These exaggerated metrics can affect your strategy for future campaigns. 

How can Advertisers Prevent Viewbots And Their Damage?

Vewbotting is always anti the terms of service of many major video platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch. These platforms encourage their users to report pages where view-botting activities are predominant so that they can take necessary actions like banning and demonetizing that channel. However, because view botting is not illegal, it is only treated as a civil matter. This ultimately means it is left to advertisers to protect themselves from view bots. Here are a few ways to protect yourself:

DIY (do-it-yourself) Methods

You can detect view bot activity by yourself in a couple of ways. Here are some of the things to look out for assessing a channel, a content creator, or an influencer;

  • High views vs low chat ratio: when a video has a high view count, but the engagement or comment is not proportional to the views, that can be a significant sign of view bots.
  • Low subscribers vs High views: Looking out for unrealistic subscribers and views is something to look for. For instance, if there is a YouTube channel with about 6,000 subscribers and a high presence of views of about 2 million, that may indicate the presence of view bots.
  • Generic and repetitive comments: some view bots can engage successfully in the live chat section, but usually, the comments are generic, and words are repeated. For example, “Amazing!” “Wow!”. All these are pointers to view the bot’s activity.

While these pointers help us to recognize bot activities, the absolute efficiency of these methods could be improved. It is also unrealistic to think that advertisers with a vast audience will have the time to go through the statistic of each channel to detect view bots or any other type of ad fraud activities. 

  • Use fraud prevention software.

With the increase of modern and sophisticated view bots, advertisers must employ cross-channel and full-funnel defence to fight against view bots and every other type of ad fraud. Instead of relying on ineffective manual methods to detect ad fraud activities, you can simply use specialized fraud prevention and detection software that will automatically detect the presence of bot activities on your ads before they cause havoc.

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