Friday, January 23, 2015

Five ways online advertisers can protect themselves from sly post-holiday fraud

Online ad prices fall after the holidays, make it easier for criminals to defraud unwary online advertisers. Here’s what to watch out for.

Holiday 2014 has come and gone, and we’re settling into the New Year. Those inflated holiday ad prices feel like a thing of the past, and marketers everywhere can rejoice in the increase of available ad inventory and the decrease of bid rates. Getting a lot of inventory for cheap is great, right? What could go wrong?

Turns out, a lot if you’re not careful. The price transition on ad inventory between holiday and the New Year is one of the easiest times for fraudsters to sneak in fraudulent inventory – like ad stacking (placing multiple ads on top of each other in a single ad placement, where only the top ad is seen, but all are loaded and charged to the advertiser as impressions, allowing the fraudster to collect publisher fees) and fake URLs (a URL that has little to no real consumer traffic, but collects publisher fees for impressions, and often houses malware generating fraudulent clicks) - without being detected. One reason is that fraudulent inventory is normally priced very low, which blends right in with those low January bid rates. Another reason is that advertisers become less vigilant as their display costs decrease from the pricey, holiday months.