Ad Fraud: What It Is and How You Can Protect Your Business

Ad fraud is a huge problem in the digital advertising industry. It costs businesses billions of dollars every year, and it’s only getting worse. In this blog post, we will discuss what ad fraud is, how it affects businesses, and what you can do to protect your business from this harmful scam.

What is ad fraud and how does it work?

Ad fraud is a type of deception used by malicious actors to manipulate online advertising campaigns. It works when automated software, bots, and other technologies are used to generate fake impressions, clicks, leads, or sales in order to collect money from advertisers.

Ad fraud can be incredibly costly to businesses because it uses resources such as data and bandwidth, while not providing any real value in terms of actual potential customers. This leaves the business with less money for actual marketing efforts that could reach the right people, resulting in lost profits and wasted effort.

Types of ad frauds

Ad fraud comes in many forms, from click-spamming and ad stacking to domain spoofing and impression laundering. It’s important to be aware of these types of fraud so that you can recognize them when they occur and take the necessary steps to prevent them.


is when a malicious actor creates an automated bot or script that repeatedly clicks on an online advertisement with no intention of engaging with it or purchasing the product/service being advertised. This type of fraud wastes money as businesses still have to pay for each fraudulent click.

Ad stacking

is the practice of displaying multiple ads at the same time, resulting in one user viewing more than a single ad at once without ever clicking through any of them. This type of fraud can lead to businesses paying high amounts for impressions that are never seen by potential customers.

Data poisoning

is when a malicious actor deliberately provides false information in order to disrupt the data used by an advertising platform. This type of fraud can cause businesses to waste money on ill-targeted ads or inefficient strategies, resulting in lost sales and wasted ad budgets.

Cookie stuffing

is when a malicious actor uses automated scripts to manipulate cookies stored on a user’s computer in order to generate fake clicks or visits from users who were not actually interested in the advertisement being displayed. This results in advertisers paying for fraudulent clicks as well as losing out on potential sales from real customers who were misled by the false advertisement.

Click injection fraud

is a type of mobile advertising fraud in which malicious actors inject fraudulent clicks or impressions into legitimate ad campaigns in order to defraud advertisers. The goal is to collect revenue from advertisers by manipulating the number of clicks on an ad, even if no one actually sees it. This form of fraud can be difficult to detect because it relies heavily on bots and human operators working together.

Impression fraud

occurs when an advertiser pays for an advertisement to be displayed but the impression is never generated due to the use of automation or other deceptive practices. Advertisers lose money as they are charged for advertisements that were never seen by potential customers, resulting in a loss of potential sales and brand awareness. It is important to detect this type of fraud as it can lead to a significant financial loss for the advertiser.

Click fraud

occurs when a user clicks on an advertisement but does not take any action after doing so. This type of fraud can occur when either malicious software or humans are used to generate false clicks that do not lead to any sales or other desired results for the advertiser. Detecting this form of fraud is important as it can significantly decrease the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns and result in substantial financial losses for advertisers.

How can your business protect itself against ad fraud?

The first step is to apply anti-fraud solutions such as bot detection and validation tools that can analyze user behavior and detect any suspicious activity. These solutions should be designed to stop fraudulent impressions, clicks, or leads from ever reaching your ad campaigns.

In addition, businesses should use a carefully crafted system of checks and balances when it comes to online advertising. This means working with reliable third parties who are knowledgeable in the field of digital marketing and have the resources needed to fight against fraudsters.

It’s also important for businesses to keep an eye on their online advertising spending levels. If there is a sudden spike in spending, it’s important to investigate the source of that increase and make sure it’s not coming from fraudulent activities.

Ad fraud prevention tips for businesses include:
  1. Regularly review and monitor online ad campaigns for suspicious activity.
  1. Utilize reliable analytics and reporting tools to identify any discrepancies or anomalies in performance data.
  1. Utilize external resources such as fraud detection software to reduce the risk of fraudulent activities associated with online advertising campaigns.
  1. Establish clear guidelines around acceptable performance metrics and ensure that all online advertisements adhere to these standards.
  1. Proactively communicate with stakeholders about the threats posed by ad fraud, including educating them on how to spot signs of potentially fraudulent activities and helping them understand how they can contribute to minimizing these risks.