Ad Fraud. How to Protect Your Company and Marketing Dollars

Updated 08/21/2021

IT and Business Operations

If you’re paying for online ads, it’s likely that not all your advertising efforts are seen by humans, but are instead viewed by bots. It’s called ad fraud, and according to HP Enterprise's Business of Hacking report, ad fraud will cost businesses $100 million a day by 2023.

Ad fraud poses both a cybersecurity risk as well as a risk to wasting your marketing spend, in fact you could be losing up to 30% of your marketing dollars on ad fraud. In this article, we’ll cover both topics.

What is Ad Fraud?

Ad fraud is a deliberate attempt to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user for the purpose of generating fake traffic. When a bot visits your ad, the advertiser still gets paid but you’ve just wasted precious dollars on the fake click.

Criminals can manipulate digital ad revenue in multiple ways, such as designing a fraudulent website, hosting ads, and then creating bots to click or view the ad many more times than humans would. This makes the ad owner pay more for the views and skews the marketing data.

How is Ad Fraud a Cybersecurity Threat?

Other types of ad fraud include hackers creating their own ads and injecting them into legitimate websites without permission. These ads can generate money based on the number of times they are viewed or lead to malicious downloads when clicked.

For example, your top salesperson clicks on an ad from his laptop, and lands on a malicious website which infects his computer with malware. Later that day, he VPNs into the corporate network and unknowingly infects the corporate network with the malware.

We suggest treating ad fraud as you would any other cybercrime. Use business grade security tools for your office and your at-home workforce, such as DNS filtering, advanced AI endpoint security with continuous monitoring, anti-spam, and dark web monitoring.

How Can I Protect My Online Ad Dollars?

Strengthen your human firewall by educating your marketing department about ad fraud and to look for these signs, according to MarketingProfs:

  • High clicks, but low conversions.
  • Traffic sources are obscured. That is if you notice that “…a high proportion of traffic from limit-ad-tracking (LAT) enabled devices, new or unique devices, or VPN or anonymized visitors, it could be fraudulent activity being intentionally obscured.”
  • Odd user behavior such as multiple clicks from the same user simultaneously.

There are fraud detection tools on the market to help you.

If you have any questions about your security posture, please call us directly at 866-680-3388 x701. We’re happy to help.