3 Ways to Guard Against Click Fraud
No one likes to be cheated. And click fraud touches a raw nerve for many marketers. So New York-based online advertising network Undertone Networks identified some best practices for agencies and advertisers to ensure the safety of online ads and the brands they represent.
Click Forensics reported in October that the average click fraud rate for the third quarter of 2009 was 14.1 percent, up from 12.7 percent during the previous quarter. "As advertisers, publishers and ad networks are getting smarter, so are the attackers," according to Undertone. "A recently uncovered click fraud ring run out of China involved 200,000 IP addresses and more than $3 million worth of fraudulent clicks."
Undertone provides the following advice:
1. Engage the ad server as the first line of defense: Most ad servers allow advertisers to pull reports on the country of origin for impressions and clicks. Do your homework on your ad-serving platform to understand how it counts and handles click fraud, and closely monitor site visitors, time spent and activity related to each click. These related measurements help you identify not only fraudulent activity, but which clicks are truly valuable.
2. Don't pay for irrelevant international impressions: Up to 40 percent of publisher site traffic comes from outside the United States, and ad networks are used as a clearinghouse for this inventory. Too often, unsuspecting advertisers serve domestic creative to international audiences who can't act. Unless international users are your target, specify U.S. traffic only in your insertion orders. A growing percentage of click fraud is through foreign IP addresses, so monitoring this traffic will reduce your exposure.
3. Modify terms and conditions on media contracts: By far, the most proactive measure advertisers can take to prevent fraud is to modify the contracts they use with media partners. These amendments include specifically excluding incentivized traffic, use of ad exchange inventory, as well as practices like ad stacking (when a click on one ad actually generates clicks on other associated ads) and daisy-chaining (when the original ad host recycles ads to other sites in order to boost revenue), which makes companies more vulnerable for click fraud.