Ad fraud has been a parasite in the digital ecosystem which has been feeding on the money of advertisers over the years. However, in this digital advertising ad space, even the publishers are not safe from the radar of fraudsters. In the case of the publishers, they not just lose the scope of revenue but also the trust of their advertisers.
A vast majority of digital publishers rely on the revenue which comes from providing a relevant audience to advertisers. And the more relevant audience a publisher can provide, the more the advertisers are willing to pay for their ad inventory.
However, cybercriminals use different ad fraud techniques to fool the advertisers and steal money from genuine publishers. Here we have covered the fraud techniques used and how it gravely impacts the publishers.
Ad Fraud Techniques Impacting Publishers
Bot Traffic: According to recent research, it is noted that bot traffic contributes to nearly 50% of the overall web traffic among which the percentage of bad bot traffic stands at 65%. The bots are automated software that is programmed and plotted by the fraudsters to steal ad money from advertisers. These bots are programmed to click on ads and view an ad or video which results in the deduction of money from advertising budgets.
Bot traffic can impact the publishers in more than one way. Firstly, it will inflate the number of clicks and impressions but in the end, the advertiser will not get any genuine users. This will further impact the relationship and trust between the advertiser and the publisher. Secondly, sophisticated bots can steal content and data from genuine publishers and use it in their favor.
Domain Spoofing: In this type of fraud technique, the fraudster masquerades a URL or domain and showcases it as a legitimate domain to misrepresent a low-quality inventory as high quality. This method deceives the buyers into purchasing a low-quality inventory at a high cost. Domain spoofing is often used by fraudsters to mask unsafe websites and make money from their traffic.
And as the fraudsters mimic the domains of a premium publisher to fool the advertisers, they tarnish the reputation of the good publishers and decrease the value of their inventory quality.
Ad Injection: In this technique, the ad injectors place fraudulent ads on a publisher’s content without the knowledge and permission of the publisher. This is often done by placing malware or other malicious application on the publisher’s website. The injected ads replace the existing ads on a publisher’s website and cost a hefty revenue to the good publisher.
Ad Placement Fraud: Ad placement fraud is a catch-all term that is used to define various ad fraud techniques that fraudsters use to manipulate the publisher’s ad inventory to generate revenue. The fraudsters plant invisible/hidden ads that take the form of ad stacking (displaying multiple ads one above another), pixel stuffing (where the ads are served on a 1×1 frame), or placement of ads outside the viewport area.
The above ad fraud techniques are not just stealing the revenue of the publishers but also damaging their reputations. Let’s see how genuine publishers are getting impacted by the fraudsters.
How Ad Fraud Is Harming Good Publishers?
- Stealing Their Revenue
In programmatic advertising, the fraudsters create many fake websites in the form of long-tail sites. They often use plagiarized content to make it look appear legitimate in the programmatic ecosystem. These websites offer ad inventory at a low cost and attract advertisers to run ads on their sites. Whereas the premium publishers have to eventually lower their cost of ad inventory to compete with the sites whose existence is unknown to the human population.
In another case, the fraudsters use ad fraud techniques like domain spoofing to manipulate the user to their fake site and steal the genuine publisher’s revenue.
- Diverts Genuine Traffic
The fraudsters look for different ways to dupe the publishers. It does not just cost them a loss in revenue, but it also leads to the diversion of genuine traffic from legitimate publishers to fake websites. The fraudsters place malware that causes auto redirects or pop-up ads which divert the user to a different website. In most cases, these websites are fake and can jeopardize the safety of the user’s data.
- Impact on Brand Safety
The trial of mishaps doesn’t end with just loss of revenue and genuine traffic. Due to the fraudulent practices, the biggest hit comes to the brand reputation of the publisher. The fraudsters not just place malware ads, but also dupe the publishers by copying their website URL or domain.
After this, when a genuine user visits the spoofed website thinking it to be the legitimate website and upon clicking the ads, they are often redirected to a page containing unsafe content.
How mFilterIt Helps Publishers Against Ad Fraud
To protect genuine publishers from being exploited by fraudulent practices, the mPlaceIt tool provides a robust solution to identify websites dealing with abusive content. It also classifies genuine websites into different categories by focusing on the targeted content of the site, thereby defining its suitability for the advertisers. Our solution is a combination of the capabilities of AI, ML & a dynamic repository of ad traffic validation data points that determines the evolving trends of fraud.
Not just advertisers are losing money due to ad fraud, but genuine publishers have also been a victim of this for the longest time. Some publishers not just lose their revenue but also face serious repercussions due to brand infringement attacks. To fight these ad fraud attacks, the publishers need a holistic solution to ensure that their content and ad inventory are protected from the bad actors.
Alongside this, this can also help the good publishers vet their inventory before sending it to the advertisers. To bring a level of safety to the digital advertising ecosystem, both the publishers and advertisers need a holistic solution like the Ad Traffic Validation suite by mFilterIt to detect and prevent ad fraud in real-time and also protect their brand reputation.