Ad fraud often appears in headlines as ads dominate the internet. One of the reasons for this is that it’s still a fairly misunderstood form of attack that many marketers miss. This makes it easier for fraudsters to get away with it. It’s increasingly important for marketers to be able to spot and avoid ad fraud before it has negative consequences for your brand. But where do you even start?
In this article, we’ll look at ad fraud and how to identify it. We’ll also look at how businesses can start to verify local ads using location proxies, like UK proxies.
We’ll be taking a closer look at the following topics related to ad fraud:
- What is ad fraud?
- How to identify ad fraud?
- How to verify local ads?
Ad fraud is a general term that describes any simulated actions on ads, such as clicks and impressions, made by fake users or bots. This fake traffic can quickly eat up an ad budget without generating any real traffic or sales for the business. Ad fraud can also be used to divert traffic from real businesses to fake ones. It is considered that approximately 11% of global ad traffic is invalid and caused by bots and fake accounts.
There are different ad fraud types, some of them include:
- Impression laundering: adding hidden ads to websites to boost impressions even though the ad isn’t visible.
- Faking website traffic: traffic bots boost website visitors to make ad space more expensive.
- Ad-click fraud: Automating ad clicks to consume your ad spend budget with fake clicks.
- Ad stacking: Placing fake ads under real ones so that when the real one is viewed, all other ads will also count the impression.
The total cost of ad fraud is currently $81 billion for 2022. To avoid becoming a victim and losing revenue, you have to be able to catch the warning signs of fraud before they cause issues to your website’s optimization, reputation, and revenue. There are a few different ways marketers can identify ads, most of which can be found within your website analytics.
A lack of performance after launching an ad campaign is one of the most concrete signs of ad fraud. One way to be sure of this is by comparing your web display ads performance with ads on other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and similar. If these channels show a decent performance, but your display ads show nothing or significantly less, it could indicate ad fraud.
You should also be concerned if you notice a sudden increase in poor site analytics, such as higher bounce rates and short session durations. Real humans that click on ads are probably looking for something specific, so they’ll spend more time on your website; they may even fill in forms or sign up for newsletters. However, automated bots aren’t real, and they may just be used to click on the ad, and once that’s done, they’ll leave immediately without spending more time on your website.
You should also look at the IP addresses of your visitors if you suspect ad fraud. If you notice a lot of visits from datacenter IPs (these are generated IPs that aren’t linked to real users or ISPs), it means these visitors aren’t from residential or even corporate devices but rather from a hosted server.
Another clear indicator of ad fraud is an unusually high CTR. For display ads, a reasonable CTR rate is between 0.5% and 1%. Anything above this should be investigated as it could indicate ad fraud.
Verifying your ads is one way to combat ad fraud. To verify ads, you need to see how they appear, what they look like, and whether they display the way you intended them to. However, this can be a complex process because the way you see ads isn’t the same way that others do. If you’re targeting other countries, such as the UK, chances are you won’t even be able to see what the ad looks like unless you’re in the UK. This is why location-specific proxies, like UK proxies, can help. These proxies will change your IP address to make it appear like you’re accessing the internet from within that country. So when using UK proxies, your IP will be linked to an address in the UK. There are many different location proxies available to help you verify your ads in other countries, such as Germany, China, Japan, Russia, and others.
Ad fraud is a serious issue facing many businesses and marketers. To ensure you don’t become a victim, you must carefully monitor your analytics for any suspicious activity. Proxies can also help you verify local ads and avoid ad fraud.