in Misc

Blogger beware: Ad fraud is still prevalent in 2020 and needs to be combated at every level

According to some people (or to be more exact, some marketing trade organizations), ad fraud isn’t anything to worry about in 2020. These trade organizations claim that because of a few detection breakthroughs in back in 2017, that ad fraud is simply something of the past. 

Unfortunately, these organizations couldn’t be more wrong. Ad fraud isn’t only not dead, but it’s at its highest level in the history of the internet. Yes, you read that right. Ad fraud is more prevalent than ever, and that’s bad news for everyone from digital brands, to marketers, and even normal internet users. 

If you’re asking yourself “What is ad fraud?” don’t worry, it’s actually a very misunderstood topic (even among digital marketers). Below we cover exactly what ad fraud is, how it can affect your business, and how to fight it.

Ad Fraud Basics

You’d be surprised at how many digital marketers fail to understand what ad fraud actually is, or how it can negatively affect their work. To put it as simply as possible, ad fraud is the defrauding of online advertising systems for financial gain (or other reasons).

Think that ad fraud doesn’t sound like that big of a deal? Well, ad fraud accounts for about six to seven billion per year in losses in the advertising industry. Billions of dollars per year lost to fraud. If that’s not a “big deal,” then I don’t know what is. 

Ad Fraud Types

People who commit ad fraud are typically trying to achieve one of two goals; make money, or suck the life out of a competing advertiser’s budget. Obviously the way a fraudster would make money is by purposefully inflating their ad campaigns with bogus clicks, etc. (on ad networks where they get paid for clicks). Additional details on ad fraud types can be viewed at this link

Likewise, the way that a fraudster would defeat a competitor is by using bots to drive up their CPC, or just simply use all of their budget by making bots “click” their ads. Below is a list of some of the most common tactics used by ad fraudsters.

– Hiding ads within a webpage so that people accidentally click them (or don’t even know that they’ve clicked them). The point of this would be to receive ad revenue from the network (with the actual owner of the advertised business receiving no traffic from the ads).

– Using what’s known as “click farms” to artificially inflate click counts on ads. Click farms actually use real people/internet users to click on ads. The point of this tactic is again to create revenue (with absolutely no benefit going to the brand being advertised). The click farmers click the ad, the website owner gets paid, and the actual business being advertised receives zero real traffic. More details regarding click farming can be read on this blog post.

– The most widely used ad fraud tactic is that of bots (and specifically traffic via bots). These bots are used to artificially click on ads, or interact with website content (in order to appear as real users). Bots are the number one source of ad fraud on the internet, and can range from very basic (easy to detect) all the way to massively complex (very hard to detect/fight – even for search engines).

How to Fight Ad Fraud

The very best way to fight against ad fraud is by actually hiring a company that specializes in ad fraud audits and protection services (e.g. a company such as ClickCease). These types of companies have dedicated, full-time employees who live for nothing more than defeating ad fraudsters. There are also a few ways that you can fight ad fraud too (see below).

Make sure that you’re actively monitoring your ad campaign data and analytics information. If you see any anomalies, or data that seems “off,” we recommend getting in touch with an ad fraud detection service. 

If you notice any odd traffic coming from a specific IP address (or domain name), you should definitely blacklist the IP address/domain so that it can’t affect your ads anymore.

As we already mentioned, the very best way to ensure that your brand is fully protected against ad fraud is by hiring an outside company that specializes in ad fraud detection/clean up. 

While using some of the tactics listed above will certainly help protect you from ad fraud, the best option would be using the services of a dedicated ad fraud protection company. 



Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.