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The dark side of digital marketing

The different types of fraud

There have been identified as 4 types of fraud:

  • the creation of a fictitious advertising space
  • the simulated generation of a fictitious audience
  • alteration of results measured by advertisers
  • targeting not respected or simulated

The creation of a fictitious advertising space

More precisely, the principle of creating fictitious advertising spaces is to operate an existing site to generate additional income by simulating an advertising broadcast. This may involve superimposing advertising banners, only one of which will be effectively visible to the Internet user but also technically hiding banners in invisible space. These will then be counted in the campaign stats but remain invisible to the user. These methods extend of course to the mobile.

The simulated generation of a fictitious audience

Audience simulation is a very old activity on the web which aims to artificially generate impressions and clicks. Historically practiced simple digital marketing by requests from one or a few isolated machines, this fraud has become professional. On the one hand, pure robots have become more and more sophisticated and can still bypass fraud detection systems thanks to increasingly complex algorithms and much more serious network resources than in the 2000s. on the other hand, fraudsters now operate botnets, groups of machines belonging to “real” Internet users over which they take control. These half-human, half-robot machines are more difficult to isolate because they have a real marketing history enriched by the owner of the machine whose fraudsters temporarily take control.

The alteration of results measured by advertisers

Beyond simulating non-existent spaces and audiences, fraudsters also seek to modify the results of advertisers’ marketing campaigns to their benefit. It is possible to generate fraud and clicks. Simulating an activity on the site is also possible. But generating “real” turnover is more difficult. Fraudsters, therefore, seek to unduly attribute the sales generated by the advertiser’s other service providers. This, therefore, allows them to display a totally false economic equation aligning clicks, impressions, visits, and sales. This alteration of the results of the tracking tools mainly involves modifications to the parameters present in the URLs and used by the first generation tracking solutions. This type of manipulation allows the fraudster to replace in the “traffic source” parameter the name of the service provider who actually generated the visit which leads to the sale with his own. Simple, efficient, and in good taste. Thanks to this clever manipulation, the fraudster is now a provider of traffic that disseminates impressions and generates clicks and sales. Perfect for presenting yourself as an effective media partner and increasing the advertiser’s budget invested in vain. Perfect for presenting yourself as an effective media partner and increasing the advertiser’s budget invested in vain. Perfect for presenting yourself as an effective media partner and increasing the advertiser’s budget invested in vain.

Targeting not respected or simulated

Other fraud mechanisms also exist, such as targeting or geolocation scams, especially on mobile. The targeting scam is quite simple: the advertiser buys a targeting Woman +45 years old and his campaign is broadcast to the entire population. Simple, in bad taste but profitable. More sophisticated, the scams based on an erroneous targeting of the profiles of Internet users, in particular the CRM profiles. For example, an advertiser wants to buy a campaign targeted at advertisers who have not bought or basket products on their site. He asks his service provider for targeting excluding customer profiles and abandoners. He installs the javascript of his provider on his site and the campaign is launched. And instead of excluding customers, the service provider resets part of it in order to be allocated sales by the attribution solutions. This allows him to boast of having set up “a prospect evangelization campaign that makes sales” but in fact, these are customer sales, unduly retargeted. In short, a type of simple and effective scam that secures part of the advertiser’s customer acquisition budget by allocating sales from existing customers.

Solutions to fight fraud

Team training

First, team training is key. To counter fraud, you have to combine experience and talent. Building competent teams on the advertiser side are the best way to limit fraud and optimize campaign profitability. Considering the amounts invested and the market wages, admittedly high, hiring talented employees who ask the right questions is undoubtedly the most effective solution.

The legal framework

Then, the legal framework of the relationship between the advertiser and its service providers can be improved to protect the advertiser against certain types of fraud. Supervise subcontracting, demand visibility on the choices of service providers, get them to use technological solutions worthy of the name with a storefront, so many contractual possibilities that allow the advertiser to supervise its operations and limit its risk.

Technological solutions

Finally, many technological solutions exist. If none of them is a magic wand, these solutions, used by competent collaborators, can greatly contribute to reducing the impact of fraud on the profitability of the advertiser’s campaigns. As always, technology cannot solve problems on its own, it must be operated by experts who demonstrate both experiences, technical skills, and curiosity. But when these conditions are met, the fraudster just has to change the target.

About the author

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DMT Web Hosting is too concerned about the health and safety of both clients and employees. Our office is closed due to countrywide lock down. You can reach us on +92 300 044 4656, +92 321 112 6660 during the lock down period. We appreciate your understanding and patience.