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Recognize the subtle signs that point to possible advertising fraud

The digital advertising industry has a big problem, and it will not go away anytime soon. A report estimated that businesses could lose up to $ 16.4 billion in advertising fraud in 2017.

Such frightening statistics put advertisers at the mercy. No business – large or small – wants to see their money wasted.

But how can an advertiser know if humans or real robots are watching and clicking on online ads? How can small businesses understand the complex matrix of advertising fraud? And, more importantly, how can they stay ahead of fraudsters?

Measures that might seem to indicate "good" performance at first glance may actually be a source of fraud. As a test, we worked with Moat Analytics, a digital advertising analytics and measurement company, to analyze more than one million impressions of online ads over a month ( September 2017) and monitor fraudulent behavior. We have collected a number of basic information on fraud sites that are valuable to any online advertiser.

What puts you at high risk?

In designing our test, we found three groups of ads. The ad group "Low Fraud" has used the fraud blocking tactics of our company. The "high fraud" group was the opposite, where we removed all of our fraud tactics and targeted sites that were very fraudulent. The third group of ads used the same sites in the high fraud test and incorporated some of our fraud blocking tactics.

In our study, it was predictable that low – fraud ad groups had a high percentage of actual human impressions. However, we found that highly fraudulent ad groups had higher percentages of visibility, which means that fraudsters become smart and create fraud when buyers are willing to pay more for visible impressions.

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The point to remember here is that advertisers who simply seek to maximize visibility without fraud filtering are at high risk of fraud.

Another data point that is obvious is that the highly fraudulent ad groups seemed to have a high display time and interaction rates. We can conclude that sophisticated fraudsters create false interactions to mimic real human behavior (for example, moving the mouse, scrolling through a web page). Although their interaction rates are higher, their quality of attention, as measured by Moat, is lower than that of the low-fraud test group. This means that, fortunately, the technology is still able to detect certain fraudulent behaviors.

Interestingly, with highly fraudulent ad groups, an increased percentage is delivered to obsolete browsers. This is probably due to the fact that fraudulent actors are building their technology with older browser versions that will not be updated to avoid the questionable tactics in which they engage. Browser targeting and bid adjustments may be one way to optimize fraud optimization.

The "high fraud" ad group also recorded a 14.31% increase in unreferenced traffic distribution. This is in agreement with previous results analyzing human behavior vs bot. Humans most often navigate from a website to a website, so the chances of getting reference information are high, while robots will not be referred.

Another statistic to consider is the "average duration of history". Fraudsters have shorter histories. This is a shortcut to recognize fraudulent activity – bots typically have a short lifespan.

So how does an advertiser take precautions with so many bad actors that become so sophisticated? The third row of the table above shows where we integrated a pre-fraud fraud protection program with the same highly fraudulent ad group settings.

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The human percentage jumped significantly from 68% to 99%, while the percentage of visitors went from almost 60% to 31%. All other interactions have become more consistent with what we know about real human behavior with this filter.

Taking steps to prevent online advertising fraud

Every online advertiser must be aware of its vulnerability to online advertising fraud. To avoid it:

  1. Review your analysis data regularly (keeping an eye on the data points we have described).
  2. Partner with sellers focused on eradicating fraud, or hold the responsible sales side in case of failure.
  3. Use up-to-date fraud protection technology.
  4. Keep up to date with the latest fraud techniques.

Fraudsters are smart, but a cautious and savvy advertiser can be smarter.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. The authors of the staff are listed here.

About the author

Soo Jin Oh is the Vice President of Gamut's Strategy and Client Solutions, overseeing the planning, media strategy and ad operations team. In this role, she leads Gamut's data strategy, channel partnerships and product development. Soo Jin has more than 14 years of experience in digital both on the buy and sell side. Prior to joining Gamut, she held the position of Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations and Advertising Operations at Magnetic, where she led the acquisition of strategic data partners and was responsible for all post-acquisition operations. sale. Previously, she was VP of Advertising Operations at IDG Technetwork, where she created and managed the ad operations teams of several business units, including display, video, mobile and data. She was also part of the core team of Dogtime Media, the largest vertical pet network sold to Evolve Media. She began her digital career at Google and has participated in numerous professional events, including OMMA LA, OMMA Targeting Audience, OMMA London, iMedia and Chicago Conversion Conference.

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