ReverseAds Blog

Advertising Fraud: Kill It Before It Kills Your Brand

July 19, 2021Kills Your Brand

How to Protect Your Digital Ad Investments

Online advertising, like any other sphere of business, is an attractive one to fraudsters. With over $455 billion estimated as an ad budget for brands in 2021, the vulnerability at stake is higher too. Unlike a common misconception that ad fraud only affects marketers, it’s actually one of the biggest challenges faced by publishers, advertisers, and ad-tech companies.

On average, the financial toll caused to brands globally due to ad fraud accounts for more than $4.5 million an hour. But this huge loss in revenue is not the only danger ad fraud poses to brands. Failure to monitor and protect your online advertising solutions can result in serious damage to your brand reputation.

If you’re thinking having high-end security measures are going to help prevent ad fraud, you are wrong. So just how sneaky does ad fraud get?

  • Impression fraud: Using bots, fraudsters mimic human browsing behavior to generate fake ad impressions
  • Search click fraud: Bots type keywords in search boxes to get search ads to load and then click on them to get ‘cost-per-click (CPC)’ revenue

High-risk ad fraud is mainly the ones targeting soft conversions – views, clicks and other digital impressions- which account for more than 36% of the total traffic generated via the digital medium.

3Ve: 2018 High-Profile Ad Fraud

In November 2018, one of the biggest ad frauds, 3Ve that frightened digital advertisers globally was discovered and dismantled.

  • 1.7 million PCs were infected with malware
  • Approximately 10,000 counterfeit websites generated around 3 billion to 12 billion bid requests daily
  • A huge number of servers were used to generate sourced traffic from bots
  • Over 60,000 seller IDs were found impersonating legitimate web publishers and digital advertising companies allowing fraudsters to receive ad placements and payments

3Ve was hard to detect even by Google as the fraudsters used counter ad manipulation and, evasion causing businesses over $29 million loss. This was one of the very few massive ad frauds recorded and discovered in the last few years.  

There are many more that go undetected as marketers are convinced that the impressions they get on their ads are 100% real. Most of these bots use residential IP addresses without the knowledge of consumers, silently tracking third-party cookies and visiting websites impersonating them. 

While bots impersonating consumers and creating fake ad impressions is a cause for concern, the real threat ad fraud poses to the brand reputation is through the data they have access to. Using this data, they might commit further crimes that affect the brand such as stealing databases and personal information of their clients, identity fraud, and sometimes even misusing the brand names for criminal activities. 

A Price Tag on Your Brand’s Reputation

As a majority of the ad fraud goes undetected, many marketers and advertisers have convinced themselves that it only affects small, low-end, non-traditional digital platforms. But in reality, even the “private ad exchanges” which claim to have high-end security and credible digital ad industry participants are not safe from fraudsters.

Online advertising evolved over time, removing human element from ad buying making it more efficient. But that has also led to ads reaching bots instead of real people.

  • You could be a brand, advertising on a platform that looks legit from the outside but might end up in your adverts being displayed alongside offensive or criminal content, resulting in your brand reputation taking a hit.
  • You’re an advertiser running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. A fraudster sends a click bot in the way of your ad and there goes your money. And if this continues to happen, multiple times before you put an end to it, your ads are going to be labeled unsafe and banned eventually.

Advertisers and publishers can either keep trusting the “we are safe from fraudsters” security claims or take matters into their own hands and fight against ad fraud.

Ad Fraud Detection and Prevention: Eliminating the Bot Factor

Digital advertising has evolved quickly, and so has ad fraud. Click bots have become extremely sophisticated that they can even visit multiple websites to generate cookies, and making them look like desirable and significant users. It’s not just an advertiser or publisher’s problem but affects an entire industry no matter how big or small a brand is. To tackle this at its roots, you need a smarter solution coupled with AI and machine learning.

Even though blockchain has not taken up 100% prime time in the advertising world, working with a key code for each recorded block of transaction and data, makes it almost impossible to manipulate if combined with AI and machine learning. You need a solution that would detect bots and fake impressions in real time and block them so that you are left with only genuine leads. Because if there is anything fraudsters cannot get past, it’s validated lead conversions.

ReverseAds’ ‘Pay Per Considered Visitor’ model offers a guaranteed solution against click fraud and hard bounces by validating each lead you get on your ads. We charge marketers only when users reach any of the consideration points: when they spend longer than 20 seconds on your landing page, visit 3 pages or reach 100% scroll depth.

To know more about ReverseAds Pay Per Considered Visitor model, email or connect with us via Facebook or LinkedIn.

By Ashlyne Belec

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