Six ways to prevent fraudsters cocking-up your paid inbound activity
So, whilst most of us were off over the festive and New Year period, global news was awash with Russian hacker stories from claims around them influencing the US Presidential vote, through to another group committing arguably the biggest ever ad fraud, ever.
The group dubbed “AFK13″ carried out the ad attack by creating 6,000+ domains, and 250,267 distinct URLs, which raked in excess of $5M a day through faking 300M+ video clicks, as of 20th December 2016. The 6,000+ domains were made to appear to belong to industry leading publishers, from the likes of ESPN through to Vogue. An algorithm was created that identified where the most profitable ads could be placed. I would add, this is only the information that security firm White Ops have been able to report, so the actual damage is still unknown, and will no doubt be higher.
2017 will see the digital ad space grow in size and complexity both in terms of traditional websites, and mobile applications/messaging programmes. Unfortunately, as with anything digital, the risk of disruption from outside influencers is always going to be present. Until recently there has probably been a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) view of digital fraud within B2B marketing. However, this fake ad traffic is a very real issue which requires us to be vigilant, and not be scared of using, or turn our backs on this critical inbound marketing channel.
Digital paid activity is a key part of the inbound function of ‘always on marketing’, regardless of the channel used, from; PPC, Programmatic, Paid Social, to Remarketing etc. If you are concerned about how this may impact the campaigns you’re running or looking to run throughout the year, here are six simple tips in being vigilant:
- Contact the channel provider – the likes of Google have created robust anti-click fraud algorithms that detect and filter out invalid clicks. They will also investigate any reports of suspicious activity directly
- Limit your daily media budget – this not only helps ensure against all of your budget being misspent it also provides your campaign with the necessary longevity and improved amplification for the targeted audience groups.
- Manage the channels on a daily basis – this is general good practice as you can adjust spend accordingly based on performance. Also you are more likely to notice any irregularities, providing you with the ability of being agile.
- Keep an eye out in analytical reports – when reviewing performance reports keep track of any standout; IP addresses, click timestamps, action timestamps, and user agents. The following sources are good for the checking of IP addresses; whatismyipaddress.com, www.whatismyip.com, and www.ip2location.com
- Expand your channel options – by using specific social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter you’re protected from any third party publishers being involved. Google Display Network (GDN) is also another channel worth considering, as the ads featured through this channel will only be displayed to those who have visited your website.
- Review your target audience – should there be a correlation between suspect traffic through your campaign(s), with no activity on your website a simple adjustment to targeted geographical regions can help realign things.
Unfortunately, digital fraud is part of the world within which we now live and operate, and hopefully by using the above six tips will help to raise any alarms early enough should anything out of the ordinary occur.
I’d be interested to know what tactics you are using or would consider using to remove/prevent fraudulent activity from impacting the performance of any paid inbound activity. Please share your thoughts below, or get in touch.