New figures suggest online advertising fraud is on the up. In the US alone, online advertising fraud costs the industry an estimated $8.2bn a year (IAB, December 2015). The biggest impact is being felt on cost-per-thousand (CPM) programmatic display and video ad buys, where advertisers are often being over-charged for bots and non-human traffic.
When planning an online campaign, taking steps to dodge the fraudsters and working out where you can secure your highest return is key. There is little point in having a huge impression rate, for example, which in many cases no ‘human’ will actually view. You should implement a strategy which limits this type of deception and also minimises the human cost involved in managing fraud prevention.
Online campaigns can deliver considerably more transparency and traceability than more traditional forms of advertising. Direct actions, including click through, sign ups and conversions are easily traced and should be integral to measuring the success of any campaign.
So what steps can you take to avoid the fraudsters and maximise the success of your campaign?
1. Know what you’re paying for. If you are paying on a CPM basis, remember that an “impression” is just a measurement of responses from a web server to a page request from the user browser. In many cases, therefore no person will actually view the ‘impression’.
2. Trade on reliable metrics. Cost-per-lead or sign-up, cost-per-click, cost-per-download, cost-per-install and cost-per-acquisition all deliver real, tangible results. By selecting a pricing model aligned to your end objectives, you will drive results and minimise the risk of wasting money on non-human traffic. Campaigns calculated on these later stage metrics are less prone to data manipulation and offer added transparency.
If you’re setting out on a branding exercise, however, then a CPM campaign might be suitable. When agreeing the budget, just remember that 1,000 impressions doesn’t = 1,000 views.
3. Utilise online tools that deliver insight and reliability. To stop sophisticated fraudsters, your campaign should offer robust multi-stage validation, clear reporting and alerts. Ideally, each campaign should have a core selection of live KPIs that allow you to measure each placement’s ongoing performance. With instant alerts and live dashboards, you’ll have the actionable intelligence that’s needed to identify fraud and resolve the issue.
4. Reduce steps in conversion journeys. We discussed the importance of shortening conversion ‘journeys’ in a previous post - Keeping it real (time). Clever creatives, including form banners and form overlays, can significantly improve conversion journeys. They enable you to, for example, offer a special promotion, capture a ‘sign-up’ within the creative and then automatically log users into the advertiser’s site to redeem the promotion. Even the most sophisticated fraudsters have trouble penetrating creative conversion journeys as these forms help to filter automated, non-human traffic and reduce the steps in the conversion process.
5. Select a bespoke offering. Ensure your provider understands your target well and can design and implement a highly targeted, bespoke campaign. A tailor-made offering will help to safeguard your campaign by ensuring it is viewed and actioned by your target audience and by delivering real, precise data.
6. Secure the best price/performance ratio. When choosing providers, ask about the success of other campaigns. Ensure you are selecting a provider with the best technology and a proven track record that can deliver a high return on investment.
Magnetise Group’s industry-leading technology offers a range of flexible pricing options that are aligned with advertiser campaign budget and objectives. Our clients benefit from some of the most advanced verification technology in online advertising and enjoy industry leading creatives that ensure a high level of accuracy.