What Is Ad Fraud?

Ad fraud is the act of attempting to defraud or defrauding an advertising network for financial gain. This is often done by deceiving the advertising platform about the activity on the network. Ad fraud is also known as invalid traffic, because the online activity is made up by non-human traffic. Many scammers use bots to carry out ad fraud. Most online advertising platforms use cost per click, to determine cost for the organization with the advertisements, and so the more fraudulent clicks by bots, the more the publisher is rewarded with the advertising fee. Ad fraud is often done by competitors or publishers wanting to make extra money. 

Examples of ad fraud

Ad fraud is typically broken into two main categories: general invalid traffic and sophisticated invalid traffic. General invalid traffic can be identified through regular filtration and standard checks. Sophisticated invalid traffic is only identifiable through advanced analytics and human intervention. Either kind can be difficult to detect because they may not have an immediate financial impact. In the early stages, it can be challenging to decipher between a highly successful ad and ad fraud. Some tactics often used in ad fraud are click fraud, click injection, fake app installs, click hijacking, hidden ads, pixel stuffing, and geographic masking. 

How to prevent ad fraud?

To prevent ad fraud, organizations should first create a normal distribution of use to represent average customer behavior. When ad traffic changes rapidly, the organization can suspect that something is going on. Preventing ad fraud is critical in protecting reputation and allowing publishers to continue generating revenue. Organizations at risk need to have a powerful ad fraud detection and marketing fraud prevention system. Other helpful ways to prevent ad fraud include monitoring activity, checking conversion rates, correctly reaching the intended audience, monitoring competitors, and monitoring spoofed domains. Having a professional test your site can also help to eliminate problems. 

How is ad fraud used?

Ad fraud is typically aimed at industries in financial, legal, and retail/e-commerce services. It is often used by competitors or publishers wanting to make more money through cost per click payment arrangements. Ad fraud reduces the reliability of publishers and wastes organizations’ time and money. It creates fake metrics and traffic that harm both sides of the business partnership. Mainly, ad fraud is used as a way to make money and create fake interest in an advertisement, harming an organization. 

Ad fraud FAQs

What is fraud? Ad fraud is a method used by publishers or competitors to create fake traffic on ads. This increases costs and makes metrics unreliable. 

How can I prevent ad fraud? Investing in robust ad and marketing security systems, regularly checking on systems, and training everyone in the organization on what to look for can aid in early detection and prevention. 

What is the purpose of ad fraud? Ad fraud can bring in a lot of money to publishers, though it will damage their reputation. It can also harm competitors if they aren’t getting as much customer awareness as it seems.