HomeBlog Deception and the Truth About Ad Fraud

Deception and the Truth About Ad Fraud

March 21, 2016 | By Jill Stanek

  • There are many kinds of ad fraud – including bot, malware and erroneous fraud
  • When ad fraud occurs, ads do not appear as requested, or people are deceived by being sent to sites they did not intend to click on
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious activity by monitoring and measuring results of your ad programs

The mischievous world of bots and malware could be sabotaging your digital ad strategy. Ad fraud is serious issue affecting millions of digital marketers today, as the deceptive and malicious practices can cost marketers billions of dollars in lost online display advertisements. Here’s the truth about ad fraud and some tips on how to fight it.

What is ad fraud?

Ad fraud is intentional, maliciously planned fraudulent activity that causes people to be unable to view purposeful ads. Ad fraud occurs when ads do not appear as requested, or when people are deceived and end up going to sites they never intended to click on. Because digital advertising is typically based on cost per ad impression (CPI) or cost per mille (CPM), ad impressions (whether fraudulent or not) are counted as legitimate impressions and companies are still paying for them. This results in performance measurements that are inconsistent or simply inaccurate, making it nearly impossible to optimize ad performance. The most common types of ad fraud are:
  • Bot fraud. Bot fraud is caused by Web robots that traverse digital media to simulate a live human being watching an ad.
  • Erroneous fraud. Erroneous fraud occurs when broken or incorrect ads appear. A buyer clicks on an ad and a broken image may appear.
  • Deceit. Deceit takes place when computers infected with malware are used to send people to Web sites they never agreed to visit, providing an unintended click on an ad.
  • Accessory fraud. Other types of fraud may include an agency’s receipt of ancillary payoffs or volume incentives for being the broker between the ad networks and the buyers who were sold the fake ad impressions.

To help ensure ad fraud doesn't victimize your ad programs, take the following steps:

  • Monitor for suspicious activity. Look for suspicious activity by monitoring and measuring results of your ad programs by individual channel or source. Strange patterns, such as repetitive page views or odd times for visits, may indicate bot traffic.
  • Monitor for high bounce rates. High bounce rates due to unintentional clicks may also indicate potentially fraudulent behavior.
  • Fraud detection tools. Be sure to ask publishers, ad networks and agencies what ad fraud detection tools  – if any – they are using to prevent ad fraud from happening.
  • Collaborate. Work with your Web team to divert or filter bot traffic from your site, and more importantly, your reporting.

Take these simple steps to ensure bots and fraudulent activity are not affecting your digital ads so you have a chance to make a good first impression – for real.

Jill Stanek

Jill Stanek is a former Analyst in the Technology and Services practice at SiriusDecisions. She brought 15-plus years of experience in information technology, software and research advisory services, including business development, account management, sales, sales operations, pre-sales engineering and systems specialist roles. Follow Jill on Twitter @jschneid18.