Every business today needs to advertise online. Without online advertising, you will find it incredibly difficult to cut through the noise and get noticed. However, online marketing is not without risks and ad fraud is a very real problem.
The advertising industry is huge, and it has been for many decades now. But it is only relatively recently that digital marketing has revealed the true power of marketing. Online marketing hasn’t just enabled marketers to reach a much larger audience than ever before; it has also made it possible to micro-target their marketing efforts at the specific audiences most likely to respond positively to them.
Most of the largest websites on the internet are funded by advertising online. There are exceptions – notably Wikipedia – that are funded through donations; and, of course, there are websites like Amazon that are directly commercial. However, many websites and services we depend on in our daily personal and professional lives are funded wholly or partly through advertising revenue.
It’s easy to assume that any fraud relating to online advertising would mostly affect big businesses, but it actually has an impact on all levels of the market. Small websites and businesses suffer from ad fraud just as much as multinational giants do.
There are a number of forms that ad fraud can take. In general, ad fraud involves either misrepresenting the number of people who view or interact with an online ad or pretending to present an ad where none has been shown. There are various techniques that can be used to defraud advertisers.
Ad verification refers to a set of methods that businesses can use to ensure they are getting their money’s worth for any paid digital marketing campaigns. One of the biggest difficulties with effective ad verification is the fact that bad actors can enter the chain at any point.
For example, a placement site that hosts ads might deliberately misreport their own statistics to make it seem as if ads are being viewed more frequently than they are. Similarly, an unscrupulous advertiser could create ads that appear to contain a single image but which actually load multiple different media files out of frame. This means that advertisers think their ad is being displayed even though it isn’t actually visible to the user. It also means that the audience is being defrauded because they shoulder the costs of loading data they can’t see.
Proxy networks can facilitate ad verification in a number of crucial ways. For one, using a proxy service makes it easy to connect to a target website from a particular location. As an example, if you are based in the USA but open a website through a proxy server in France, you can view the page as if you were connecting from there.
Many fraudulent ad companies rely on the relative difficulty involved in verifying ads that are served to users in other locations. Not all business owners are IT savvy and many don’t realize it is even possible to connect to the internet as if you were located elsewhere in the world.
Ad verification businesses are able to audit digital marketing in ways that are all but impossible for most businesses. These verifiers will utilize rotating residential proxies in order to obscure their IP addresses and avoid getting banned by the fraudsters. The proxies are called ‘rotating’ because they automatically cycle the apparent IP address of the user. They are marked as ‘residential’ because the IPs they provide look like they belong to real people, as opposed to data centers. This contrasts with VPN servers that are easily identifiable by their IP addresses.
Any website or business marketing themselves online needs to have a basic understanding of what ad fraud looks like. There are now plenty of services that can assist you in ad verification, but these aren’t a practical option for everyone. More importantly, every business should aim to develop their own internal procedures for auditing their spending and ensuring that their marketing partners are delivering on their promises. As soon as you start advertising to users around the world, secure a proxy service to verify your ads from any location.