Domain spoofing can cost advertisers up to $1 million in lost revenue per month. It’s something you usually don’t know is going on, until your budget runs out with no return for your campaign.

Domain spoofing happens when a publisher declares in the real-time bidding (RTB) that an ad will run on a specific domain, but is actually set to appear on a different, less favorable website. Fraudsters try to profit from the domains of reputable publishers, so what you see isn’t always what you get.

What Is Domain Spoofing?

The point of domain spoofing is that the actual domain is hidden (or, spoofed). On the surface, the URL will look like it hosts a reputable site, but it’s really a trick. So, while you think you’re bidding on a reputable website, your ad will show up someplace much different.

And if a fraudulent publisher is spoofing their domain, it’s probably not the cleanest site. If the ad appears next to inappropriate or controversial material, it can create some major brand safety issues. For example, imagine if a Warner Bros ad was running on illegal streaming site.

Domain spoofing isn’t necessarily fraudulent traffic, because the person on the other end may be real, but your ad is being shown on a different site (and to a different audience) than originally bid for.

How Domain Spoofing Hurts Your Brand

Domain spoofing differs from traditional ad fraud that involves fraudulent traffic. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hurting your brand. If you’ve been defrauded, your campaign won’t be optimized for search engines. This ultimately hurts your SEO.

Related Post: How Ad Fraud Affects Your Brand Safety

And besides the aforementioned brand safety issues, domain spoofing can potentially hurt you by lowering consumer trust and draining your ad budget. You won’t want a potential customer seeing your ad next to any sketchy material. And remember: because there's no legislation on ad fraud, fraudsters get to pocket what they steal.

Domain spoofing is more damaging than just a few lost impressions; if you’re a victim of domain spoofing, your reputation is on the line.

Domain Spoofing Signs To Look Out For

You might be a victim of domain spoofing if you see any of these five signs.

  • The domain traffic quality doesn't add up.
  • The CPM is too good to be true.
  • The domain has no ads.
  • The publishers don’t sell ad space in RTB auctions.  
  • You notice a suspicious email address (like the one pictured below).

Domain SpoofingSource: Forbes

What You Can Do

1. Always Check Your Work

When bidding for ad placement, make sure you know your publisher. Ask for transparency and check to make sure they are who they say they are.

2. Avoid Blacklisted Publishers

This might seem obvious, but fraud can sometimes be difficult to spot. Stick to what you know and avoid any questionable publishers.

Related Post: What You Need to Know About ads.txt

3. Get a Third Party to Double Check

A third-party perspective can be a game changer when looking at data. Someone else might be able to see what you can’t.

4. Get Protected

Ad fraud solutions are no longer a want, but a need. Investing in an ad fraud solution can help you identify domain spoofing before it can hurt your campaign.

Falling victim to domain spoofing can have a lasting impact on your brand, resulting in lost revenue and decreased brand safety and consumer trust. While domain spoofing can be hard to spot, knowing the signs and risks can help you to proactively defend your brand against fraudsters.

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Sources:

1. https://digiday.com/media/news-uk-tests-finds-high-levels-domain-spoofing-tune-1m-month-lost-revenue/

2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/12/20/methbot-biggest-ad-fraud-busted/#52f922b84899