By The NSA Team

Scary Truth on Online Ad Fraud

Having a strong online presence could mean great things and fantastic growth for your brand, but it also means another avenue for marketing opportunities and costs. Unfortunately, this can lead to ad fraud and end up costing you. To help minimize the cost of fraudulent brand interactions, it is a good idea to know what causes it, how to spot it and most importantly how to solve it.

Good and Bad Bots

One of the main culprits of fraudulent activity online is bad bots. While some good bots make it easier for data to be gathered and analyzed, among other things, malicious bots will make your engagement look like it is through the roof while there are no humans interacting with your ads. In some cases, these fraudulent bots are skewing your analytics with fake page views, and in the worst case, they are clicking on your ads and actively costing you money.  Per eMarketer, it’s estimated that $5.9 billion of brand advertising dollars will be lost to ad fraud this year alone.  While this estimate is down from the actualized numbers of 2018, the industry still has a long way to go until we can truly grasp what it will take to combat this malicious activity.

Identification and Awareness

The first step to solving ad fraud is to be aware of the problems and how to identify them. A few signs that fraudulent activity may be behind your marketing data are if you have experiencing spikes in page views without a corresponding ad campaign or without recent activity on that page.

It is a good idea to research sites that send a lot of traffic to your page, especially if they are unknown so that you can determine the authenticity of the traffic and links. This can help you curb fraudulent traffic as well as see which affiliates give the best return on investment.

Tactics and Solutions

Once you can identify the different types of causes for this unwanted activity, how do you solve it?

One of the most important safeguards is implementing brand safety tech into every touchpoint of your online marketing efforts.  It’s a must at this point!  These vendors are leading the charge for the industry on battling ad fraud.  As always, you need a human element to this process.  Ensure your agency or in-house traders are analyzing the data from the brand safety tech.  Consistent review of sites and impression level data of fraud activity is key to taking proactive optimizations to block sites, vendors, and tactics that are producing non-valid engagement and traffic.  The technology will only do so much, and digital traders should be required to step in and take action themselves.  The data won’t lie so use it to your benefit to improve the strength and effectiveness of each ad dollar put into market.

Another solution you should look at is focusing your efforts on known ad networks and supply sources that have taken steps themselves to defend their inventory and ad space from fraud.  Ensure any supply sources you partner with have implemented ads.txt.  Also, rely heavily on private marketplaces, so that before you run a single impression, you know where your ads will appear within inventory garnering traffic from real-life, breathing consumers!

Another site-level solution is to implement is a multi-layered filter for your traffic. There are software solutions available to help with this and your marketing team may already have invested in these.

Ad fraud is a growing problem and the solutions are just now starting to keep up with it. Malicious technology can send fraudulent traffic to your sites and mess with your data as well as the ROI of your marketing campaigns, but once you know what you look for, you can start to combat it. This means making sure that the inventory has real people for traffic as well as having software solutions in place to filter out bad bots and fraudulent tactics.  If you need help with your digital campaigns targeting the right humans, please contact

 We don’t make it scary!