Ad Fraud: What To Do To Beat The Bots


Nefarious robots are out to destroy your business.

No, this isn’t the plot of the latest summer blockbuster. It’s the all too real threat to advertisers that’s happening right now: The theft of your marketing dollars.

Do you know that in 2015 an estimated $6.3 billion in marketing dollars will be stolen from advertisers? Ad fraud is a growing concern in the industry and a crucial front in agencies’ never-ending battle to secure their clients’ media buys. What is ad fraud? It’s the use of illegal activity to exploit the system in order to get paid for fake, non-human traffic.

And what is this non-human traffic that is threatening your ad buy? Among other things, it’s those nefarious ’bots.

Fake traffic is executed in a number of ways, including robotic traffic, or “bots,” driven by code that mimics human online behavior (clicks, views, etc.). Bots are one of a variety of methods used to deliver bogus or non-viewable ad impressions.

The potential for digital ad fraud exists anywhere that media spending is significant and performance metrics are ambiguous or incomplete. As a marketer, you may be asking yourself what you can do to ensure your media buys are protected: “How can I combat the bots?”

The good news is, you can beat the bots. Okay, it’s true that not all bot traffic is 100% avoidable. But the risk is significantly lower when you choose the right partner armed with auditing technology and who maintain a hyper-vigilance in monitoring each buy.

You should quiz your agency and media partners about their philosophies on this issue and, more important, what best practices they have implemented in order to safeguard your ad spend from being wasted on fake traffic.

Best Practices Your Agency Should Be Following

1. Strict media partner selection: Focus buys on lowest risk property types and/or certified partners

Lowest Risk Media Partners

Media Rating Council (MRC) and/or IAB Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) compliant companies
Premium site direct partners
Premium networks/DSPs that have internal auditing tools in place

Highest Risk Media Partners

Non-premium networks/DSPs that do not have internal auditing tools in place

2. Require strict measurement guidelines and processes be in place with each recommended partner, such as:

  • Auditing tools
  • Ad view ability measurement
  • In-house fraud prevention team

3. Implementation of a third-party auditing tool especially across brand/engagement focused buys

  • Soft-conversion buys are at a higher risk for ad fraud in that it’s much easier for bots to replicate that activity (clicks, views, etc.)
  • Campaigns with hard conversion goals such as actual leads or sales prove to be at a much lower risk as bots are not able to fully emulate this type of human activity

4. If possible, avoid or minimize more vulnerable or susceptible placements/units/dayparts across buys

5. Revise standard terms and conditions to include ad fraud legalize so that there are more formal safeguards in place from a financial standpoint

The industry as a whole is moving quickly to combat ad fraud as digital media continues to grow as a focal point for modern marketing. More and more media partners in this space are taking a stand against ad fraud and many are leading the charge against the bots. Among the agencies leading the line, nFusion maintains strict vigilance against fraud and, in collaboration with our media partners, minimizes client risk by instituting the best practices outlined above.

Down with the bots, and pass the popcorn!