Digital marketing offers opportunities that were not available prior to the public internet. But with more opportunities come an increased risk of fraud. Unfortunately, digital ad fraud can easily decimate a company’s marketing budget without anyone being the wiser.
Does your organization advertise online? And if so, have you experienced this nagging feeling that you are getting a high enough ROI? Spending a lot of money on digital ads without seeing even a slight bump in conversions suggests your organization might be a target for ad fraud.
FraudBlocker.com is an ad fraud protection application developed and maintained by a company of the same name. The experts at Fraud Blocker say that perpetrators can decimate marketing budgets in numerous ways, including the following six forms of ad fraud:
1. Click Bots
A click bot is a small piece of automated software designed to do one thing: click online ads. Bots can be programmed to search for ads across the internet or hang out at home, on the fraudsters publishing network, just waiting for ads to be served so they can be clicked.
Click bots are easy to create and deploy. They also run 24/7. Lastly, an enterprising fraudster can use malware to distribute a click bot to thousands of computers across the net. Unsuspecting consumers are roped into the fraudulent activity without a clue.
2. Click Farms
Click farms are actual businesses – usually set up in countries with little to no regulation – employing people who sit behind computer screens all day clicking on ads. Workers are typically paid very little. If the authorities catch on, a click farm’s operator simply shut it down and reopen somewhere else.
3. Malicious Publishers
Fraud Blocker makes a practice of reminding advertisers about malicious publishers. These are fraudulent organizations that set up publishing platforms for the sole purpose of committing ad fraud. They use a variety of tactics including ad stacking and remarketing fraud.
One could make the case that malicious publishers make up the bulk of those entities perpetrating ad fraud related to PPC advertising. They have plenty of opportunity to do what they do given that they are served so many ads from Google, Amazon, etc.
4. Competing Businesses
As strange as it might sound, click fraud victims are sometimes victimized by competitors. A competitor might hit on the idea of destroying your company’s marketing budget, thereby limiting how competitive that company might be in the marketplace.
Ad fraud perpetrated by competitors could very well be the most egregious form of ad fraud out there. Those who commit this crime would certainly be up in arms if they discovered they were also being victimized by fraudsters. Yet they think nothing of perpetrating the crime against someone else.
5. Accidental Clicks
Thanks to small screens and the human tendency to miss every now and again, accidental clicks are an attractive way to perpetrate ad fraud in the mobile arena. Fraudsters enjoy the most success when they place tiny ads in locations phone users are most likely to tap accidentally. Every tap equals more money in the fraudsters pocket.
6. Vengeful Customers
Last on our list are vengeful customers who know the ins and outs of PPC advertising. They are unhappy for some reason, and they plan to make their unhappiness pay. So what do they do? They continually click a company’s ads with absolutely no intention of visiting the website or buying something.
If you are into online advertising, be careful with your marketing budget. A sophisticated ad fraud campaign can wipe out your budget in short order.