The Internet as a marketing channel has been growing for years - we invest in online advertising more and more willingly and boldly - so we shouldn’t forget about the dangers that this entails. As shown by ClickCease and Cheq studies conducted in 20 countries, campaigns aimed at acquiring customers on the Internet recorded 3% more invalid traffic compared to last year. What are the consequences of this?
As Ilan Missulawin, co-founder of ClickCease, says:
„First, money is being wasted on serving ads and retargeting bots and fake users who will never become customers. (…)When you’re spending dollars on invalid traffic, that’s money that is being diverted away from real human visitors who can actually convert. In addition, your audiences and CRM are compromised when they become infested with bots.”
What can you do yourself to counter Ad Fraud?
Contrary to appearances, the fight against ad frauds doesn’t belong only to professionals. Each advertiser can contribute to making the Internet a safer place to conduct marketing campaigns. What actions can you take on your own in this area?
- Control statistics and traffic sources.
First of all, no one knows the details of your campaigns better than you or your company’s marketing department (or at least it should be this way). That is why you need to control the statistics and partners with whom you work in acquiring potential customers. Any irregularities such as lower effectiveness of a given campaign, a decrease in the conversion rate, too high percentage of false leads or other abnormal events should worry you. One of the special cases will be the emergence of situations in which people who have allegedly consented to be contacted by you suddenly deny that they have provided you with their data. You should explain all such situations - by checking the data you have, but also by requesting detailed reports, information and evidence (for example, for the Internet user to consent to contact) from your partners and sources. Additionally, if you obtain traffic from publishers or from other websites, check step by step what path the consumer must follow to become your potential customer - it may turn out that a dishonest publisher manipulates the Internet user or his data.
- Eliminate all suspicious sources and partners.
If your suspicions are confirmed and it turns out that some source or partner you work with is dishonest – don’t ignorethis event. If you are sure that you have been cheated or a given publisher refuses to provide you with information - terminate the cooperation immediately and refuse to pay remuneration for false traffic. If the cooperation took place through an affiliation or agency - be sure to inform they that such a situation took place. Don’t be afraid to talk about the fact that you have been cheated - it is up to you whether the scammer will fool more people, but not only that - dishonest publishers very often operate under different names, so it may happen that you will be cheated again by the same person.
- Use exclusions and use remarketing wisely.
Most of the marketing platforms and portals that offer advertising through them (such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc.) have appropriate tools that they make available to their advertisers free of charge. Many of them allow the use of appropriate exclusions in the campaign. They often concern duplication and are used to prevent clicks or leads from the same device from being classified as unique, but there are also more advanced algorithms that allow people who don’t meet the criteria - such as geolocation, to be excluded from the campaign. To reach the right people, you should use these tools wisely - so that your campaign reaches the people you are looking for, and not to artificial accounts created by BOTs. The same applies to the use of remarketing in your campaigns. It can be a very effective tool for rescuing abandoned shopping carts, but it must be used properly - otherwise you may find that your funds are again wasted on fraudulent email addresses or telephone number.
- Write the rules of the campaign accordingly.
We mention it quite often - and yet many advertisers still forget to adapt the regulations to specific marketing campaigns. Even if the campaign resembles the previous one - make sure that the regulations are up-to-date. It must also clearly state how marketing consents should be formulated and how publishers can get traffic to your campaigns. Leaving understatements or a gray area of possible actions, you are almost asking someone to cheat you.
How do experts fight with ad frauds?
Fortunately, along with Internet marketing frauds, there are also experts who try to detect all threats on an ongoing basis. In Poland, websites devoted to the fight against ad frauds are, for example, fraudbusters.pl or trafficwatchdog.pl. Their specialists have access to data from many clients and appropriate tools to analyze them - thanks to this, their knowledge about online fraud is constantly updated. What tools to fight ad frauds do they use?
- Complicated algorithms.
Thanks to the vast knowledge and being well informed in subject of the tactics used by fraudsters, experts are able not only to create complicated algorithms, but also to modify them on an ongoing basis. This allows them to analyze up to several hundred factors at the same time and detect frauds with almost one hundred percent effectiveness. Let us add that such traffic monitoring programs take into account not only the user’s data and his behavior on the website, but also information about the device and browser that the Internet user uses, and even about the environment in which he is located.
- Digital fingerprint.
For several years, experts have been using a technique called fingerprinting to fight online frauds. It consists in the fact that when entering the website, a specially created program asks thousands of questions to a given device and collects information from the browser, operating system and even individual programs. Then the responses are processed by a carefully prepared algorithm into a much shorter sequence of bits, which is a kind of digital fingerprint of the device. The fingerprinting method makes it possible to identify the user when re-entering a given page, even if the owner of the device prevents it (for example, pretending to be someone else, using a variable IP address, etc.).
- Automatic blocking.
Experts can also span class="text-bold">program campaign settings to automatically block click spamming in Google Ads and social media ads (for example on Facebook). If the system detects that the ads are massively clicked by the same users or competitors, they will be prevented from further clicking. The most important thing in such a procedure is that such a blockage arises automatically, and therefore in real time. So you don’t have to worry about your marketing budget being exhausted on such useless clicks, or that your advertising message won’t reach potential customers.
Companies specializing in the fight against advertising frauds have access to Blacklist (or they create it themselves) - i.e. information about suspicious publishers, users and devices. Thanks to this, they can eliminate the potential threat before the fraud occurs and check the sources or publishers with whom their clients want to cooperate.
Regardless of whether you support yourself with experts in the fight against advertising frauds or if you act on your own, you must remember that taking action in this topic is necessary - otherwise you can immediately transfer your marketing funds to the fraudsters’ account. However, it isn’t only about finances - but above all about the safety of you, your brand and your customers - and this should be your greatest motivation for you to fight online fraud.