Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales

Scams in online marketing: recognising and eliminating bot traffic

Ad fraud caused by bot traffic and similar scams results in losses in the billions every year for advertisers. But you are not at the mercy of cybercriminals. Find out here with methods are used for ad fraud and how you can protect your online marketing.

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The spread of fraudulent marketing bots on the Internet

Successful online marketing requires a combination of many measures. This includes marketing measures which aim to boost organic traffic as well as paid ad formats. The goal is to continually generate leads and conversions.

Due to ad fraud, the efficiency of digital ads is dramatically reduced. In general, the term fraud is defined as the fraudulent spoofing of a non-existent or wrongly provided advertising service. Frequently, ads on Google or Bing are affected, as well as on social media networks such as Facebook. At the same time, cybercrime prevents, for instance, the ad from reaching the desired target group.

Advertisers suffer tremendously, as they are spending a lot of money without any value in return. Market observers from Juniper Research assume that ad fraud will cause damages of up to 68 billion US dollars worldwide in 2022. In comparison to the previous year (59 billion dollars), this represents yet another growth spurt.  

Responsible for this are cybercriminals who charge a fee for campaigns that are never launched or who want to cause financial losses of companies. To achieve this, they mainly use technical means such as bot traffic. This includes click fraud on a massive scale, which fakes a very high conversion rate.

Ad fraud and fiends: how scammers work in online marketing

Over the course of time, the tools for ad fraud have continually developed and advanced. The following scamming methods are common today:

  • Click fraud deceives advertisers who pay for each individual click on their digital ads. In this case, bot traffic artificially pushes up the traffic, without a real consumer being involved. This makes the advertising expensive, but without offering any value.
  • Impression fraud is aimed at formats which charge a fee for every display of the ad. However, the pages visited either do not have any or just one-pixel-large, practically non-visible ad. Also possible: several ads are placed on top of each other so that just the top one is visible.
  • Brand safety fraud means that ads appear in an environment where they cause damage to the image of the advertisers. For instance, on websites or social media channels which are not in line with the position of the company advertising.
  • Domain spoofing creates fake websites from well-known companies and then smuggles malware through it to the end devices of the visitors. Another variant of domain spoofing involves cybercriminals who pretend to place ads on expensive top websites. But actually, the ads appear on lesser-quality platforms. In the end, both cause damage to the image of the clueless publisher.

Technological solutions to prevent marketing fraud

To combat ad fraud caused by bot traffic, as well as other scams, advertisers have many options to choose from. These include placing ads only through renowned and trustworthy premium marketers. This may take up more of your online marketing budget, but it also provides more protection.

What’s more, the ad supply chain should have as few stakeholders as possible – ensuring that scammers cannot simply jump in without being noticed. Which is why it’s better when the path leads from the placer of the ad through the ad network and then directly to the ad exchange.  

Google Analytics can also help to prevent ad fraud. With the tool, advertisers can monitor click behaviour. So, if they notice a huge difference between visitor numbers and conversion, or an unusually high number of clicks from an IP address, they can be sure that something is not right.

With the help of ad verification systems such as Meetrics, it is possible to review the location and visibility of ad displays. This uses tags to control the content of the ad networks – enabling you to check if the ad is displayed in the desired form and in the placement booked.

The above-mentioned and other measures to combat ad fraud require special know-how in some instances. Which is why it can make sense to bring on an external service provider who takes over responsibility for the task at hand. Today, many agencies offer tools and solutions to fight ad fraud and bot traffic.

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