Online ad fraud is stealing your budget

The 2021 cost of digital ad fraud worldwide was estimated at 65 billion U.S. dollars. … It is also double the value of fraudulent transactions made by payment cards worldwide. It is also worth mentioning that bad bots are responsible for nearly 18 percent of internet traffic in the marketing industry. It’s a continuing problem, yet most brands continue to throw more money into digital advertising.

Adobe found that potentially 28% of web traffic came from bots or other non-human actors investigating thousands of client websites. It has been my experience that it’s even higher.  Digital ad fraud takes $1 for every $3 spent on digital ads, and online advertisers are estimated to lose $7.2 billion globally to bots in 2016. 37% of advertisers surveyed are ready to pay a premium of 11% or more for certified human traffic.

Digital Ad Fraud is estimated to cost brands around $44 billion to fraudulent activities by 2022 and reach up to 45% of the total spent. It’s even worse with programmatic ads. Programmatic ad fraud is a subset of ad fraud wherein fraudsters take advantage of programmatic ad campaigns for their financial gain. This type of fraud often involves deploying bots, malware, or human fraud farms to falsify impressions and clicks on programmatic campaigns—thus stealing your ad money.

The lack of transparency opens up the door for fraud which is why it’s paramount to set your sights on a transparent and strict platform that has all the capabilities to detect and prevent it.

Here are some ways to prevent it according to Yieldbird…

  1. Know Your Traffic Source

Before you do anything to fight affiliate fraud, you need to know where your ads are running. In that regard, conduct your research and make sure to screen and pick the right ad network that you can trust (and also know the difference between ad network vs. ad exchange). The lack of transparency opens up the door for fraud which is why it’s paramount to set your sights on a transparent and strict platform that has all the capabilities to detect and prevent it.

2. Keep An Eye On Data

Watch out for changes in traffic that don’t match the performance you’re used to. For instance, sudden spikes in traffic for no real reason or an abnormally high CTR (higher than the industry standard) without any relevance to your offer. In addition, keep a watchful eye on different geos. Suppose traffic targets U.S. customers, and it’s coming from Southeast Asia (one of the usual suspects). In that case, that could very well indicate fraud, mainly if conversions or other important metrics are nowhere or barely to be found.

3. Use Ads.txt

This buying method confirms that each webpage uploads a file to its root domain detailing which SSP (Sell Side Platform – a tool that manages the programmatic advertising of a website) offers its inventory, its Placement ID, and its relationship with that SSP. This ensures that the information passed from SSP and the publisher’s I.D. is accurate. The Publishers publicly indicate who is authorized to market their advertising space, eliminating inventory fraud.

4. Target High-quality Traffic

Low-quality websites are breeding grounds for click fraud more often than not. Affiliates see a chance to score some cheap traffic and risk having bots clicking on their ad to boost the other side’s PPC revenue. It’s not a bad idea to limit your exposure by targeting a few specific high-value websites instead of placing your ads on just about any website relevant to your keywords.

5. Target Specific Countries

We’ve mentioned this earlier – some countries and regions are labeled as click fraud zones. Some areas are prone to having bots, people, or even click farms whose sole purpose is to click on advertisements. These are real people, which makes it harder to spot fraud without a close look into their activity. That doesn’t mean you should blindly stick to a U.S. market as the best of the bunch. Instead, you should be more refined regarding the geos you advertise to and avoid those with a high risk of fraud.

6. Have a Sensible CPC

Another move you can employ for click fraud prevention is to have a reasonable cost per click. We hate to say it, but a low CPC usually gets low traffic quality, which, in turn, is far more susceptible to click fraud. Spend your money where it makes the most sense for you, even if it’s not the cheapest option. There’s still good traffic to be found on a low CPC but keep in mind that you can’t expect significant results on a small budget.

But the easier way is to have an in-house analytic team to measure your online spending. Things like clicks should NOT be counted unless you’re ready to measure them against bounce rates, pages viewed, or time on site. Under no circumstances should you spend money for online paid media without measuring the spend against specific objectives.

The other factor to consider is whether your online ad needs someone to click on it. If, for example, you’re introducing a new kind of pizza, an online ad may serve as a reminder to look for the product at the store.

Digital advertising CAN be effective, but homework and accountability are needed every time you spend money.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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