How Marketers Can Protect Their Online Ad Dollars from Fraud

COVID-19 changed B2B marketing strategies from the outside. It interrupts conferences, events, and fairs that increase the scope of action and give more attention and importance to digital advertising.

As more and more companies increase their digital advertising efforts, scammers, spammers, and bots are on the move. Some marketers are aware of the imminent threat – if you advertise online without proactive fraud prevention, you are almost certain that your criminals who want to steal your marketing money for you will fall victim.

Whether you’ve been advertising online for years or just entering the world of digital marketing, despite the chaos of COVID-19, clear signs of fraud can be seen at a time when all business processes are under scrutiny.

Identifying these signs may indicate that large portions of advertising spending are consumed by fraudulent activities.

Recognition of signs of advertising fraud

Advertisers are estimated to have lost $ 44 million a day to fraudulent traffic in 2018.

Unfortunately, there is always widespread fraud and fraud – the biggest indication that you can lose money from ad fraud is simply that you are advertising online.

There is rarely a red flag or warning sign indicating the presence of advertising fraud, due to its widespread. The fraudulent activity has probably distorted your campaign metrics and KPI forecasts for so long that it is impossible to determine what is “normal”.

When many of your other marketing levers, such as trading opportunities and opportunities, are unavailable, it is more important than ever to make sure your digital spending is working. By avoiding ad fraud and invalid traffic, marketers have the ability to trigger up to 30% of their budgets previously wasted on ad fraud.

This gives your budget a bonus so that your campaigns can reach more people without having to ask your managers for a budget increase.

Indicators to watch

Within the marketing metrics, there are the following indicators to be considered when containing fraud and maximizing advertising expenses.

You’ll get a lot of clicks, but few conversions

One of the most obvious signs of advertising fraud is a flow of clicks and referrals, as well as a very low conversion rate.

This type of fraud has many names and consists of different tactics (flood, clicks in the mail, etc.), but the result is always a wasted expense

  • With pay-per-click ads, each fraudulent click reduces ad budgets.
  • In high-quality ads, where the conversion occurs after the click, scammers allow spam to steal a conversion so that it looks like they’ve made the last click, reaping the incentive.

At first glance, this fraudulent traffic on a marketing dashboard looks like regular traffic, which means it usually loses results and budgets and distorts basic data years before it was discovered.

And if COVID-19 also causes fluctuations in its benchmarks due to changes in its customer base, the baseline will be exponentially distorted.

Recognizing a problem is the first step in finding a solution, such as implementing ad fraud prevention software and restructuring your budget.

Traffic sources are obscured

To rediscover this sign of advertising fraud, just print and visit. If, if you take a closer look, you discover a large amount of traffic from restricted ad tracking devices (LAT), new or unique devices, VPNs, or anonymous visitors, this can become a fraudulent activity that is being deliberately overshadowed.

Some obscure traffic is normal, so it can be difficult to determine what is real and what is hurting you’re spending. Start by identifying the sources of this hidden traffic.

If there is a lot of traffic coming from individual partners, sub-partners, or site IDs, there is likely to be a great opportunity to clean up these sources. The resulting savings can still be attributed to the sources of actual traffic.

As an indicator, the signal becomes much more difficult to detect. Apple’s privacy-focused updates from iOS 14 make all user traffic in this version completely anonymous and impossible to detect.

In the future, a high percentage of anonymous user traffic will no longer be an anomalous indication of invalid traffic and this will become normal. In fact, I suspect that we will see a lot of simulated activity from devices running this operating system, where scammers are using this update to cover up traffic.

User behavior is strange or impossible

If user behavior is so strange that it does not seem possible, it is probably because it is not.

Look for strange patterns in your data that could indicate bots or automated systems increasing your marketing budget:

  • Are there multiple clicks from the same user at the same time?
  • What about visits by the same user from different parts of the world on the same day?
  • Are potential customers suddenly silent during events and communication after the conversion?

Few companies will prepare the resources and analysis to allow this type of analysis, but some specialists can help you to achieve transparency in the quality of traffic.

The key is to get exposure first so that you can see the true magnitude of the impact of advertising fraud on your advertising efforts.


In fact, advertising fraud comes in so many forms and levels of sophistication that hundreds of equally sophisticated data points and analyzes are needed to be discovered. The fraudulent traffic exposed by the three indicators above barely scratches the surface.

Marketers have the opportunity to use the tools available on the market to identify and eliminate threats that are undermining their advertising budgets, as the economic crisis hinders other efforts.

Fraud detection can improve your ad performance, but it’s also starting to establish new, more realistic baselines that can better target your ad spend in the years to come.