A critical part of any marketing strategy is online ads, including pay-per-click ads. However, while these ads are crucial to your income and exposure, ad fraud can mean the difference between a successful campaign and losing money.
Further, if you have localized ads for overseas markets, for example, France, then it can often be difficult to verify the authenticity of the ad traffic. Using a tool from premium brands like Smartproxy, such as residential proxies, can help you adjust your IP to better access your overseas markets.
What is Ad Fraud?
Before we dive further into how you prevent ad fraud, it’s vital to understand the term. Ad fraud refers to any illegal interference with your ads and aims to defraud your ads and gain financial returns. In other words, it’s hackers spamming your ads with fake clicks and traffic that doesn’t result in any leads and instead has your company losing money.
Hackers and other cybercriminals have various ways they can complete this, from generating fake traffic to generating empty clicks. In 2022, global companies lost $81 billion altogether to ad fraud. Below, we look at some of the most common ways they defraud ads.
The idea of online ads is to place them somewhere viewers can see them. Impressions are the number of times an ad appears, whether clicked on or not. Advertisers pay the publishers of these impressions for every 1,000 times the ad is displayed.
Hackers can set up a fake website and join an ad exchange to publish different ads where no one will see them. Meanwhile, you don’t know your ads aren’t in a viewable place and pay the hacker for the supposed impressions they generate.
The same happens by placing the advertisement behind the main page, resizing or pixelating it, and any other methods to make it inaccessible and invisible.
Ad Click Fraud
Click fraud is the most damaging method of advertisement fraud, as it generates empty clicks, also known as pay-for-click fraud. The hacker uses bots and ad scripts to automate clicks, and these clicks don’t result in any real leads or sales.
Advertisers pay the publishers a small fee for each click, as it’s supposed to indicate a potential customer. However, with an empty click, they’re paying the additional charge but receiving no new customers.
Hackers use this method to either exhaust the advertiser’s budget, enhance the hosting website’s revenue, or boost the rankings of malicious websites by making them look popular.
Hackers use fake accounts to make the connection look more realistic and make it more difficult to identify fraudulent advertisement activity. Advertisers can struggle to see which are bots, hackers, and real customers since it all looks like an actual client interacting with the ads.
Faking Website Traffic
Traffic bots increase the traffic on a website, making it look much more popular than it really is, thus increasing the fees for the ad space. While the website seems more popular and should, in theory, generate more leads, it won’t result in any actual customers since it’s due to traffic bots. In this way, you’re paying more for a dummy ad space.
Detecting Ad Fraud
Not all is lost, as several ways to detect ad fraud exist. We’ll also look at how to prevent it using any location proxy. Below, we look at some red flags that are an immediate warning you might be experiencing fraudulent advertisements.
Always keep an eye on your advertisement analytics. If one or more of them shows that it experiences short sessions and high bounce rates, then it might mean fraudulent activity occurs on the ad. Bots won’t go the entire mile and click on various products, fill out forms, or do other activities that indicate it’s human.
Lack of Performance
You should have ads on various platforms and compare their performance. While not all platforms will show equal interaction, it’s a warning sign if one has extremely low or no interaction. If it’s the same ad and the other factors are also similar, then some activity should be present.
Server IP Addresses
One way to detect ad fraud is to use an IP verification tool. The tool verifies that the IP address comes from an actual person and not a datacenter proxy. The average consumer doesn’t use VPNs or proxies when browsing websites, so that’s a quick way to weed out possible fraudulent connections and fake accounts.
CTR (Click-Through Rates) refers to the ratio of your ad’s impressions to the number of clicks. Essentially, if you have a much higher number of clicks on your ads than the impressions, then it might mean bots are spamming your ad.
While we all would love sudden and significant leads to appear, expecting them to be more than the industry average is unrealistic. This average ranges between 4% and 10%, depending on the industry.
The Importance of Ad Verification
Double-checking your ads and verifying vendors and publishers placed them on the proper sites is crucial. At the end of the day, your ads are your brand identity. Many people form an impression of a brand by the ads they use and where they place it.
It’s sometimes a bit challenging to verify your ads in other markets, which is where location-based residential proxies come into play. Proxies allow you to set your location to any place worldwide, so you can quickly check on localized content and market-related information, ensuring your ads are operating at the standard capacity.