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What is Ad Fraud? And How to Detect Ad Fraud | Ad Fraud And the Means to Detect it

The growth of information technologies has brought many business interactions into the digital world. To get better outreach, cooperation with other companies,...

Written by Niel Patel · 4 min read >
data visualization in digital marketing 2022

The growth of information technologies has brought many business interactions into the digital world. To get better outreach, cooperation with other companies, and ensure fast communication with customers, modern businesses utilize the internet and the systems it provides. While some companies reap more benefits than others, establishing a presence on the web is essential to thriving in an XXI century market.

Advertisement in a digital world has undergone the most drastic changes. Just a few decades ago, the outreach to potential clients revolved around en masse marketing on the biggest traditional media networks. Today, businesses have access to user data and the knowledge of behavioral patterns to develop effective digital marketing campaigns. By utilizing multiple resources and opportunities to capture the attention of internet users, companies build personalized connections with clients to capture the interest of potentially interested customers and reach out to as many internet users as possible.

Digital marketing campaigns use many different strategies to avoid putting all eggs in one basket and ensure the maximum benefit from all approaches. Businesses look for influencers and public figures on social media networks to find clients in their fan base but also utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to ensure the discoverability of their products on search engines.

How to detect ad fraud
How to detect ad fraud

Still, a large chunk of marketing revolves around online ads on frequently visited websites and social media networks. However, the simplicity of these advertisements creates opportunities for cybercriminals to carry out ad fraud. Scammers have many methods to abuse advertisers and steal their revenue. In this article, we want to teach our readers to recognize and detect ad fraud. We will also discuss the use of proxy servers and their role in ad fraud detection. To get the most out of the services of proxy providers, you can utilize intermediary servers in different locations around the world to get the most benefits and ensure the most accurate results. For example, the benefactor can use UK proxies to change the location of the IP address and verify ads in the targeted region. You can get detailed information about the service and the use of UK proxies from a respected proxy provider here. For now, let’s learn more about ad fraud and the means to detect it.

Ad Fraud techniques

While digital marketing has many strengths that help us reach out to potentially interested clients, simple online ads measure success on clicks, but the collected traffic data can be easily skewed by scammers. By creating fake impressions of real user clicks with automated bots. To better understand the situation, let’s discuss the methods cybercriminals use to scam advertisers out of their money with ineffective ads.

There are many ways ad click fraud can be committed

  1. Crowdsourcing is a method used by publishers to increase clicks on the ads. 
  2. Ad Click Fraud is a method of committing click fraud by convincing individuals to click on ads for money all day.
  3. Using genuine human beings instead of automated scripts shows to be more advantageous because persuaders may teach those who conduct the clicks how to click on advertising more naturally.
  4. Another type of ad click fraud is hit inflation, in which real people are misdirected to a website by first going to the advertisement and then to the page they wanted to visit.

5 More Types of Common Ad Click Fraud

  1. Domain spoofing
  2. Ad stacking
  3. Ad injection
  4. Geo masking
  5. Bots/non-human traffic

Ad concealment

The most common strategy involves concealing ads and tricking unsuspecting visitors into clicking on them. Scammers like to strategically place illegitimate advertisements to generate traffic and trick advertisers that provide pay per click. These ads can be transparent, reduced, and rendered behind the page to deceive real visitors.

More experienced hackers can compromise the ad publisher’s web page to place an illegitimate ad on top of real advertisements. This way, scammers steal the click from legitimate ads and profit from them.

Fraudulent ads damage both ad publishers and advertisers. When scammers have access to the website, they can alter the code to redirect visitors to different websites and damage the publisher’s reputation. Such intervention can lead to an unauthorized advertisement of illegal and unapproved products.

Fake website traffic

Fraudsters use automated bots, often protected by proxy servers, to visit websites and generate fake traffic on illegitimate ads. This strategy does not only give more revenue to scammers but also inflates the price of the ad space, further tricking interested parties. Fake clicks and visits can skew the data for businesses that depend on analyzing real user traffic. With thousands of bots, scammers can employ workers to supervise robots to make the scam even more effective.

To infuse illegitimate traffic with more legitimacy, cybercriminals also buy or create fake accounts to click on ads. When the efforts to scam advertisers are diversified, they are left with no choice but to employ preventive measures to combat ad fraud.

Tackling ad fraud with ad verification

Ad verification is a powerful countermeasure that allows us to identify ad fraud. It uses similar tools and strategies to recognize fraudulent ads to stop scammers and protect legitimate online marketing.

In certain cases, bigger businesses cooperate with expert companies that specialize in ad verification that inspect advertisements and publisher websites. One of the strategies involves altering legitimate ads to maximize the effectiveness of fraudulent ads to make them more visible.

To battle verifiers, fraudsters employ IP blacklisting to stop these parties from investigating fraudulent ads. In such a case, experts have to proceed with proxy servers that change the IP address to bypass blocking.

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How Does A Click Fraud Detection Algorithm Work?

Ad Click fraud is a big issue that can cost companies up to 20% of their advertising budget. It’s not only a significant and annoying problem, but it’s getting worse as the world becomes more digitised. Click fraud detection algorithm can help companies to save huge amount.

Click fraud detection algorithm fraud can be carried out automatically or manually

  1. Bots are used to carry out the automated path of click fraud. These bots are taught to click on advertising repeatedly. How can you tell whether a bot is doing click fraud? A user who repeatedly uses the same IP address and has little engagement with the ad’s website, for example, is a red sign. If the cursor movement of the mouse to the button on the ad is a straight line – a perfect line isn’t human – you can be getting attacked by automated click fraud.
  2. Manual click fraud is much easier to carry out. It is carried out by humans, either individuals or large groups of people who work in click farms and spend their days clicking on adverts. If you’re getting more clicks than usual and the geolocation is strange or irrelevant to your ads, you may be dealing with manual click fraud.

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A click fraud detection algorithmically does the following

  1. Protect your campaign across geos – The algorithm protects your campaign whether you’re dealing with a click farm in India or a hacker in Canada.
  2. Do speedy calculations — When it comes to lightning fast data calculations, we’ll take the machine over the man.
  3. Make wise decisions – The detection system determines which traffic is fraudulent and which is legitimate. When the computer determines that a certain IP address is malicious, it will automatically block it in your Google Ads campaign.

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How proxy servers help with ad verification

To investigate scammers and fraudulent ads, ad verification companies must employ the most effective proxy servers provided by business-oriented proxy providers to not give away their identity. Residential proxies from real devices supplied by internet service providers provide the most discrete addresses. To avoid detection, verifiers can utilize large proxy networks with millions of IPs masked as real users. By choosing IPs from specific locations, using a proxy to detect local ad fraud is easier. This makes the cooperation between verifiers and proxy providers essential for effective ad verification.

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