Ad injection, click farms, cookie stuffing... each a different form of ad fraud. There are so many terms, we’ve created an Ad Fraud Glossary. And the latest term we’re adding to our glossary is verification stripping.
Here’s what advertisers and publishers need to know.
What Is Verification Stripping
Verification stripping is a nefarious tactic that fraudsters use to manipulate code. By using bots or malware, they strip the code that’s used to verify impressions. This enables them to hide any signs that domain spoofing or other types of fraud is occurring (e.g. pixel stuffing, ad stacking, bot traffic).
Related Post: 5 Ways Malicious Bots Can Devastate Your Online Presence
This fraudulent method can even stop a measurement pixel from firing.
What Are the Signs?
While impression fraud is stealthy, there are signs you can look for. For example, you’ll see an unusual spike in sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT). You’ll also notice the number of programmatic impressions purchased don’t align with the number of impressions counted in vendor reports.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes there are other explanations for verification stripping. For example, any government or military agency as well as financial firm will have security on their networks. Consequently, some tags are misidentified as malware and are then stripped. Ad blockers can also trigger verification stripping, too.
Make sure you consider all possibilities before determining if the root cause of your verification stripping situation is malicious or simply accidental.
How It Hurts You
Impression fraud occurs when advertisers pay for exposure that never happens. Impressions are the collective measure of how many times an ad is displayed. However, it doesn’t guarantee that the ad was viewed by a real user.
Related Post: Domain Spoofing: How It Hurts Your Brand
Impressions help brands builds awareness. However, if a brand is paying a publisher to place their ads on websites, only to have those ads never seen, it quickly becomes a domino effect. No consumers + wasted spend = negative ROI.
How You Can Protect Yourself
To prevent verification stripping, buyers and ad platforms need to ensure the impression counts recorded in their ad server are similar or equal to those originating from their verification provider or publisher partner.
Employing an ad fraud solution will also add a strong layer of protection. Based on a set of metrics and rules, you’ll be able to determine if real users are seeing your ads, enabling you to mitigate any fraudulent programmatic sources accordingly.