What You Should Know About Digital Ad Fraud

Digital Ad Fraud has been such a hot topic in the digital advertising space for a while now, it’s important for advertisers to understand the two main types – Bot Fraud and Site Fraud – the basics of how they occur and why.

Bot Fraud

Bot Fraud is possibly the more widely discussed of the two, and conceptually very easy to understand. There are “bots” (a.k.a. nht – non-human traffic) created to crawl the internet and mimic the activity of human internet users. The bots are served ad impressions and then click on ads, thereby wasting advertising dollars for apparently malicious intent. Most people understand this concept but do not understand the point – why are these bots created and how do they, or the people that create them, benefit from committing ad fraud.

Essentially, the bots are created by programmers that are trying to make money. The bots are programmed to attach themselves to the browsers of actual human internet users in order to mimic the behaviors of those human internet users (example, 30-year-old women, shopping for shoes). The person that created the bot(s) will then create a fake website that boasts an audience of 30-year old women who are shopping for shoes. The programmer will then register that fake website with DSPs (demand-side platforms such as Rocketfuel, to name one) and then collect their money from the DSPs. DSPs will then serve impressions to this fake website when/if any of their advertisers are looking to target 30-year-old women shopping for shoes. The impressions and clicks that are then received from that fake site are fraudulent because none of them are from actual, human traffic.

There are ways to detect bot fraud – the best of which is to obtain the use of a reputable fraud detection service (such as Integral Ad Science or Forensiq, to name a couple). In the instance that this is not in your budget, at the very least you should be monitoring your Google Analytics. Big things to check for are big spikes in traffic during short bursts of time and very high bounce rates.

Site Fraud

Site Fraud, as appropriately named, occurs on the side of the publisher (website). Two big types of site fraud are ad stacking and pixel stacking. Ad Stacking occurs when, for example, the publisher has one spot on a page for a 300×250 display ad, but puts five advertisers in that spot at one time. All five advertisers are charged an impression, but really only the top advertiser’s ad was actually seen. This happens less and less now with the charge led for greater viewability. Pixel stacking is when the publisher places a 1×1 pixel on their site as a stand-in for your ad. Your ad is charged an impression but no one actually sees it.

Digital ad fraud is something all advertisers should be educating themselves about and taking steps to prevent. If you’re looking for advice on how to proceed with ad fraud detection and prevention in your digital advertising, let us help you!


[Photo credit: Got Credit]

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