Determining if you have an ad fraud problem can be tricky when you don’t know what signs to look for. Reviewing your analytics is one way to identify signs of potential ad fraud. Analytics will reveal patterns in your data, enabling you to spot when something is abnormal.
Here are a few parameters you can track that will give you a heads up if ad fraud is lurking.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you gauge your campaign’s performance and potentially uncover ad fraud, too. Here are a few KPIs to keep your eye on:
Click-Through Rates (CTR). CTR lets you know how many people click on your ad after seeing it. This KPI is calculated by taking the total number of clicks and dividing it by the total number of impressions. If your CTR is abnormally high, but you’re not getting conversions, you could have a problem on your hands (e.g. bad bots).
Engagement and Conversions. When ad fraud comes into play, these two KPIs go hand in hand. A high engagement rate with low conversions could mean fraud is afoot. For example, if you have 300 clicks from LinkedIn and it produces 30 conversions, while 300 clicks from display campaigns produce zero conversions, something is definitely up with your display campaigns.
Bounce Rate and Session Duration. Your bounce rate is the percentage of users who left your site after viewing your homepage (a.k.a. they only visited one page before leaving your site). If their session durations are low, they could be clicking on your ads, arriving to your homepage, and exiting the site before your page even loads. Watch out for this type of fraudster. Your ad spend will disappear faster than you can say data.
The user location can also be a red flag indicating potentially bad, fraudulent traffic.
Let’s say you’re a pizzeria located in Baltimore, Maryland. You notice one source of traffic is originating from the Philippines. This anomaly catches your eye since you’re nowhere near the Philippines.
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Here, you would take a deeper look. Is this a common reoccurence? Are you getting traffic from other odd locations? If your answer is yes, you could have an ad fraud problem on your hands.
Also just because an address appears to be coming from the U.S. doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Fraudsters can pick up U.S. IP addresses and bounce signals from their foreign country so that it appears to be originating from here (and human, too). They know how to use the cloud to obscure their identity. Remember real users don’t come from the cloud.
Another one to watch is the type of device that users are using to enter your site. If you’re the pizzeria from above, you would expect most users to search for you on their mobile device. After all, people who are hungry while out and about would search using mobile. But if you’re seeing a high influx of desktop searches, that could potentially be a red flag.
Along with user device, also watch out for outdated software. If users are coming to your site via software from 10 years ago, that’s a red flag. In this day and age, the majority of users are up-to-date on the latest technology.
Always Double-Check Your Campaigns
While it may be tempting to blame every mishap on ad fraud, not every problem with your campaign is necessarily fraud related. Sometimes it’s a simple as inadvertently typing in the wrong area code that’s throwing off your demographics.
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To give yourself peace of mind, implementing an ad fraud solution can help put your worries at ease. However, don’t forget to stay on top of your analytics, too.