Digital advertising has grown in leaps and bounds since the internet became popular. In this digital era where more online shopping occurs, display ads are more important than ever. When display ads are used effectively, they can reflect a boost in website traffic and increase conversions and sales. However, cybercriminals can also use these ads against the user for their gain. So, how do you protect your business from ad fraud?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ad fraud, the warning signs, and how to use location proxies such as a China or France proxy to verify local ads. Keep reading to discover how to ensure your ads are verified.
Table of Contents
What Is Ad Fraud?
Ad fraud is the intentional fraudulent attempt to deceive advertising platforms into believing the activity is from real people when they aren’t. Depending on the type of display ad chosen, the user usually pays for certain interactions with the ad – such as clicks. Digital marketers and businesses justify this expense as the goal is to get more leads to the website or platform so that more conversions and sales can occur. However, many ad fraudsters would use automation tools like bots to interact with the ads (and the user has to pay). Still, the bots don’t go to the next step of actually making a purchase, so the business loses revenue.
There are a few types of ad fraud, such as:
- Domain spoofing: disguises the website as a different, more valuable one to increase the cost of ads.
- Click injection: generates click to inflate ad spend.
- Cookie stuffing: fraudsters apply many affiliate tracking cookies on visitors’ browsers.
- Pixel stuffing: fraudsters add a single-pixel ad over a legitimate ad to get paid for ad impressions without the user realizing the ads are there.
- Geo masking: fraudster hides the visitor’s location and masks it with an IP address from a more valuable location, and the advertiser will pay more.
- Ad stacking: fraudsters stack multiple ads behind the legitimate ones and get paid for the impressions even though no one sees the other ads.
- Ad injection: fraudsters place ads where they shouldn’t be by using malware or browser extensions, and the fraudster will get the money for clicks even if they don’t own the website.
Warning Signs Of Ad Fraud
We’ve had a brief look at some of the types of ad fraud. Now, let’s see what the warning signs are that you may be the victim of ad fraud.
This is the most concrete evidence of ad fraud. If an ad is doing well, there should be increased website visits, conversions, and sales. If you see your ads are doing well, but the website statistics are still low, you should consider verifying your ads and seeing if you’re the victim of ad fraud.
Poor On-Site Analytics
High bounce rates and short session duration are other warnings to be aware of. If a visitor clicks on an ad, it’s because they’re interested in the product or service. They’ll spend some time on your website looking and reading about the product or service. If you notice an increase in bounce rates and short session duration, it’s a good idea to check your display ads.
Data Center IP Addresses
Make a point of checking the IP addresses of visitors you get through ads. If you notice a high number of datacenter IPs, you should evaluate your ads. Many fraudsters use datacenter IPs with their bots to perform these actions.
While we all want our display ads to perform well, there is a certain limit as to how they perform. If you notice an unusually high CTR (click-through rate) on your ads, you should investigate for other signs of ad fraud. The average CTR for search ads is approximately 1.91%, and for display ads, it’s 0.35%. If you notice your rate is higher than this average, you should look into possible ad fraud.
Suspicious Site Lists
Make a point to check your site lists. Real users will usually show a recognizable publisher in the site placement. However, fraudulent users often show long-tail site placements from unrecognizable sites.
How To Verify Ads
There are a few ways that you can verify ads. The first is to make sure that the visitors are human. You can check this by looking at the associated IP addresses and the behaviors on the website. If they have datacenter IPs or short sessions, it could indicate a bot rather than a human. Another way is to check your ads carefully. Make sure that the ads are displayed in the size and placement you chose. It’s also important to carefully monitor your ad metrics alongside your website metrics to pick up any signs of suspicious activity.
Using Proxies For Local Ad Verification
You may be targeting many different countries with your ads, but checking them afterward to ensure they look and work correctly is difficult because your IP address is tied to your physical location. As such, you’ll only see local ads and not those in other countries. With a specialized location proxy, such as a France proxy, you can change your IP address to make it appear from that country so that you can check and verify ads in France. Aside from a France proxy, there are ones for many other countries such as China, Germany, Japan, and others.
Search and display ads are a critical digital marketing tool, but many marketers don’t yet understand the implications of ad fraud. Not only are you losing out on revenue, but ad fraud can also affect your optimization, context, viewability, and performance. As such, it’s critical that you know how this fraud can occur and the signs to watch out for.