Shutting Down Ad Fraud as a Native Advertiser

Native advertising is a booming opportunity for digital marketers. It started becoming popular around 2012, when alternate media sources such as Mashable and BuzzFeed began experimenting with it as a new revenue strategy. The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and other major publishers soon begin selling native advertising as well.

Although native advertising has created new opportunities for brands to engage with their customers, there are still some drawbacks. Fraud is a growing concern all native advertisers must contend with. According to a report from ad week last year, bot traffic alone cost advertisers $7.2 billion. Brands also had to contend with manual click fraud from unscrupulous native ad publishers.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat native ad fraud if you know what to look for. You need to be very budget conscious while running an online marketing campaign, especially if you are trying to grow a business with small margins. This is something companies running successful clothing businesses need to deal with.

Here are some tips all native advertisers must be aware of.

Look for unusual click through rate patterns

Fraudulent publishers typically use bots to rob their customers. These bots are designed to mimic the activity of engaged customers. They will click ads and landing page buttons to make it look like the publisher is sending highly engaged leads to your website.

However, the click through rates of the bots will be much higher than a typical website visitor. If you noticed that the click through rate from traffic from one publisher is 40%, compared to 10% from the rest of the network, then you should be wary, unless of course the conversion rate is comparable.

Unusual peaks in impressions and clicks

Since fraud traffic is designed to mirror the behavior of legitimate web users, it tends to come in waves. It is normal for traffic to fluctuate from day-to-day, but bot traffic peaks differently.

If all of your website visitors are legitimate, you may notice a 100% difference in traffic between your least and highest volume days. These peaks will be much higher with bot traffic. You may notice that you received 20 times more clicks or impressions one day than others. If you don’t notice a sharp increase in conversions or have a higher bounce rate on these days, then it is almost certain that it is fraud traffic.

Look for Repeat Traffic

It is important to monitor your traffic logs on a regular basis. If an unusual amount of traffic is coming from a single source, you should ask the native advertising network to investigate.

WordStreamrecommends looking at these variables:

  • IP addresses
  • Timestamps of each click
  • Timestamp of other actions
  • User agent

The IP addresses are the most important. If too many clicks or impressions come from a single IP address, you should find out where it is. If it is a corporate IP rather than a residential, then it is more likely to be fraud.

How do native advertisers prevent from fraud traffic?

Most native advertising networks are legitimate. They have a number of controls to detect and ban fraudulent publishers. However, they can’t detect all fraud traffic on their own, so they must depend on reports from their advertisers.

You should always report fraudulent traffic to the network. Outbrain and other networks will generally refund any funds that were spent on bot traffic. If a lesser known network refuses to refund fraudulent traffic, then you should sever ties with them.

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