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CPL and Ad Frauds

TrafficWatchdog team

27.03.2021 r.

CPL, ad frauds, lead

CPL and Ad Frauds

source: own elaboration

If you pay your partners for the contact details they have obtained - BE CAREFUL! The CPL (Cost Per Lead) model is particularly vulnerable to online marketing fraud, and in this case their effects can also be extremely dangerous for your brand image. Continuous monitoring of partner’s activities and checking the quality of the leads they generate for you is crucial if you want to spend your funds effectively working in this model. Below, we will discuss the types of frauds that CPL campaigns are exposed to and why Ad Frauds are so dangerous in this case.

Generating fake leads

The CPL model is particularly sensitive to online marketing fraud due to the relatively low level of difficulty of such fraud. The contact details with which the form is completed are easy to forge (there are even special generators of Pesel numbers, identity card numbers, telephone numbers, etc.), and if the advertiser doesn’t check what he gets - it may happen that he’ll pay a dishonest supplier quite a lot for such completely worthless leads. Of course, the fraudster doesn’t have to come up with the data himself, a special BOT can do it for him, supplementing the contact forms with false information. If the fraudster plans to operate in the long term, he will probably mix incorrect leads with correct leads, thanks to which the advertiser won’t suspect anything for some time.

Failure to collect appropriate approvals

It can be both a fraud itself and a circumstance accompanying other activities of fraudsters. If the fraudster has real contact details but fills in the forms without the knowledge of the data owners, this is a serious fraud. The data has been unlawfully used, and no consent has been collected for contact from the advertiser. As a result, people whom the advertiser contacts won’t be interested in the offer, and they may even request an explanation as to why the advertiser is contacting them at all. Of course, the cheater is not the advertiser but his partner, but in practice it won’t be easy to prove it. Most lead frauds will unfortunately be associated with the neglect of collecting appropriate consents, and thus the contact details obtained from fraudsters will be completely useless, although the advertiser won’t be aware of it.

Leads from old databases

We encounter another type of online fraud if the fraudster is actually the owner of the database. In this case, fraud may be based on the use of old contact details, for example obtained from another campaign of the same advertiser or its competitor. The information contained in such a database may no longer be up-to-date or the person may no longer be interested in the offer, even if in the past they actually were. Whether or not a fraud has taken place at this point should be clear after reading the terms and conditions of a given campaign. The advertiser should clearly define the period in which leads and consents must be obtained - if he didn’t ensure this, the fraudster simply took advantage of the situation, but there will be no grounds not to pay him a commission.

Manipulated traffic

A very significant fraud in the case of the CPL model will be the contact data acquisition inconsistent with the campaign’s objectives. A great example is manipulated traffic, such as leads from online contests and lotteries. Internet users are promised certain prizes (marketing gadgets, product samples, vouchers for use in well-known stores, and even electronic equipment) in return for providing specific data and granting marketing consents. Of course, in practice, in such forms, fraudsters collect consents to contact many advertisers at the same time hoping that Internet users won’t read them. The leads obtained in this way very rarely converts, because the data they contain don’t belong to people who are actually interested in the advertiser’s offer. Therefore, it is always worth knowing where exactly the traffic generated by the partners comes from, i.e. with what forms and on which pages information is collected, and also include detailed instructions in the campaign regulations on where leads can be obtained.

Organic traffic theft

A more sophisticated form of Ad Fraud in the case of the CPL model will be the theft of organic leads, i.e. contact forms filled in directly on the advertiser’s website. How can fraudsters commit a similar misappropriation? First of all, thanks to sticking cookies to the browser history, thanks to which the attribution path of a given lead will indicate that the person entered the website on the recommendation of a fraudster, although in fact nothing like that took place. Fraudsters can also redirect the internet user from the advertiser’s website to their own which resembles the real one.

Falsification of Reports

Of course, in addition to the frauds listed above, fraudsters can also simply falsify reports provided to the advertiser. This is probably the oldest and simplest fraud in the handbook, and many advertisers fall for it anyway. Why? Because they don’t know how to check whether the reports sent by the partners match the actual data.

How Ad Frauds in the CPL model can affect the company’s image

We need to remember that a lead is the contact details of a person potentially interested in our offer. However, to finalize the sale, we must first contact this person. If the leads were provided to us by a scammer, they may contain incomplete or incorrect data (for example, the wrong name and surname were attached to the real phone number), in this case, when contacting someone, we risk the opinion of the company calling at random and gobbling people uninterested in the offer. What is worse, the consent allegedly obtained by our partner will be in fact completely invalid, and by contacting, it seems to us, a potential customer, we will violate his rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The consequences can therefore be very serious.

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