Impression fraud (also known as domain spoofing) is a type of online advertising fraud that occurs when internet users are tricked into unknowingly viewing fraudulent online ads by deceptive techniques. The ads can be in the form of text, banner or display ads and can appear on almost any website, including social networking websites, search engine listings, or even your own website.
Impression fraud is hard to detect and even harder to prevent. It is becoming increasingly prevalent as internet users become more sceptical towards ads, leading to more aggressive tactics by malicious actors in pursuit of profit.
At its basic level, impression fraud is the practice of falsifying the viewability of a web page or the click-through rates of an advertisement. This is done by manipulating the impression data that is sent to the ad platform by injecting false or misleading information into the page code. As a result, the advertiser is billed for more views or clicks than what is actually legitimate.
Impression fraud can occur when a publisher uses ‘bots’ or ‘spiders’ to generate false traffic to a website and artificially increase impressions. Another common technique is to place an advertisement on a web page that is not visible to users, but still manages to generate an impression.
These techniques work by exploiting vulnerabilities in the tracking and attribution system of the ad platform. The end result is that advertisers are paying for impressions that are not generated by real people and will therefore not convert into sales.
In order to combat impression fraud, it is vital that advertisers take measures to protect themselves and verify the legitimacy of their campaigns. Here are some of the best practises advertisers should consider and implement in order to do so:
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1. Use a trusted mediation partner: Advertising platforms have their own methods to prevent and combat impression fraud, but it is strongly recommended to use a third-party mediation partner to double check the ad campaign. Third-party partners offer unique solutions to spot and block suspicious traffic, as well as provide additional reporting for further investigation.
2. Use an attribution model: An attribution model is an algorithmic program used to trace effort back to an individual or group who has contributed to the success or failure of a particular online ad campaign. An attribution model helps eliminate any fraudulent or accidental impressions and clicks by linking them to their original source.
3. Take extra precautions in the bidding process: During the bidding process, it is important to be aware of contextual relevance and target audience. More targeted campaigns are more likely to be targeted by impression fraud due to their greater potential for conversions. Make sure to use accurate targeting parameters and review the impressions before accepting a campaign.
4. Whitelist publisher sites: Whitelisting a set of publisher sites ensures that the ad is only shown on trusted websites and not on any sites that may be operating maliciously.
5. Pre-assess the campaigns: Before accepting a campaign, it is recommended to thoroughly assess the performance of the campaign and verify that it is coming from a legitimate source.
6. Review reports and analytics: All of the performance data for the campaigns should be reviewed and monitored for any anomalies or unusual activity. Whenever possible, it is recommended to compare the performance data to industry averages to further verify that the campaign is legitimate.
Impression fraud is an ever growing problem and it is important for advertisers to stay vigilant and take the necessary steps to protect their campaigns. By following these guidelines and best practices, advertisers can make sure they are getting the most out of their ad campaigns without falling victim to impression fraud.