Click fraud scammers are generating fake leads to trick advertising networks into believing their fake clicks are genuine
Click fraud detection service Polygraph is warning advertisers of a fake leads scam affecting a major online advertising network. The fake leads are being generated by fraudsters to fool advertisers and the advertising network into believing fake advert clicks are genuine.
Click fraud is an online scam which steals billions of dollars from advertisers every year. Criminals create websites and monetize the content using advertisements. They use bots – software pretending to be human – to visit their websites and click on the ads. For each of these fake clicks, the advertiser pays money to the advertising network, and the money is then shared with the scammer.
An issue faced by the criminals is their bots never purchase anything at the advertisers’ websites. This will eventually get flagged by the advertising network, and can sometimes result in the criminals’ publisher accounts being suspended. To get around this issue, the scammers instruct their bots to look for leads forms on the advertisers’ websites, and to fill out the leads forms with real-looking data. This tricks the advertising network into believing the bots’ traffic is real, and the scammers are able to continue stealing money from advertisers.
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According to Trey Vanes, head of marketing at Polygraph, this scam is affecting thousands of advertisers, and the advertising network does not appear to be taking action to solve the issue.
“We know of thousands of advertisers who are experiencing this issue, and they’re all complaining that the advertising network is doing nothing about it,” said Vanes. “The fake leads are the result of click fraud, so the solution is to ban the fraudsters from being able to display advertisements on their scam websites.”
Vanes says advertisers should focus on the root cause of the fake leads form submissions. “It may be tempting to create a complex leads form in the hope it will confuse click fraud bots,” said Vanes. “However, this will frustrate genuine visitors, and it won’t solve the root cause of the problem – click fraud – which means you’ll continue wasting your ad budget on fake clicks. A better solution is to use a service like Polygraph to detect click fraud, and apply for click fraud refunds from the advertising network. If you want to alter your leads form to confuse click fraud bots, add a simple question only a person could answer, and automatically dismiss submissions which get it wrong.”
Polygraph helps advertisers prevent click fraud using the scammers’ playbook. “We monitor the activities of click fraud gangs, so we know how to detect and prevent their fake clicks,” said Vanes. “We tell advertisers which websites are doing click fraud, show which ad keywords are being targeted, and provide details of every fake click so advertisers can get refunds from the advertising networks and quantify how much of their ad budget is being wasted on click fraud.”
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