Your Search Ads Are Under Attack. Know Why?

Akash is excited to plan his trip to Bali and starts searching for the best deals on the internet. He searches and finds an exciting deal of “Get INR 1000 instant cashback on your first hotel booking”. The deal sounded like a golden opportunity, and he instantly clicked on the ad. It was a renowned travel booking site which made him book his hotel in a hurry without any suspicion.

However, he neither received the cashback nor the booking confirmation from the website even after 48 hours. In the end, he ends up being frustrated and is under the impression that he has been fooled by the brand.

But in reality, the brand is clueless about this incident.

In this case, Akash has been a victim of the search-ad phishing scam.

This is one of the few instances which has recently been in the news in terms of cybercrime. Most of these instances often go overlooked due to a lack of awareness and prevention methods. The search ad scams not only result in the wastage of ad spends but also impact the reputation of the brand.

Before knowing the impact, know in detail about search-ad phishing.

What is Search-Ad Phishing?

Also known as Google ad phishing, this is a type of cyberthreat in which the fraudsters hide the malicious links within the sponsored search engine results to fool people into clicking it. It is like phishing emails impersonating your brand just in the case of a search ad. When a person clicks on a search ad link, it redirects either to a fake website impersonating your brand, a spoofed social media account, or a fake phone number.

Generally, the fraudsters trick the customers into searching for a website or customer care numbers of retail stores, financial institutions, insurance companies, cloud services, or utility companies.

Ways Cybercriminals commit Search-ad Phishing

  • Hacking Devices: The fraudster uses these techniques to trick users into sharing their personal information. Otherwise, they direct the users to an app or website to drop malware and hack their system to steal money or harvest personal information.
  • Creating Fake Offers: The fraudsters also create fake company websites that claim to offer products at low prices for your brand’s products or services. When the customers fall for this bait, the fraudsters can use their personal information or sell counterfeit products using the name of the brand.

Impact of Search-Ad Phishing on Brand

  • Consumer Lose Trust: When the user interacts with a spoofed search ad, they are either taken to an impersonated website of a legitimate brand. The user is unaware of this and when they lose their money due to fraudulent practices, they think they have been defrauded by the brand. This eventually leads to consumers losing trust in the brand.
  • Compromised Data: Due to the spoofed search ads, the data from the ad campaigns are highly compromised. This results in the wastage of ad spends and the advertiser unknowingly continues to invest in these tampered ad campaigns without any improvement in ROI.


Marketers often overlook the impact on brand safety when taking prevention measures from cybercriminals. Along with detecting fraud in ad campaigns, it is essential to act against brand infringement attacks by fraudsters. When the fraudsters attack your brand image, the consumers are impacted first and eventually lose trust in the brand.

To protect your brand’s ad spends and brand safety altogether, it is important to partner with advanced ad protection and brand safety solution provider. mFilterIt’s ad traffic validation suite and brand safety suite ensure that your search ad campaigns are protected from invalid traffic and brand infringement attacks. With the right set of capabilities and expert help, protect your brand from the trap of fraudsters.


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