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How Brands Mimicking Consumer Behavior Is Crucial to Getting Ahead of Ad Fraud

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2020 has been a tumultuous year by any standard, with some industries suffering greatly while others experienced increased business as a result. The global lockdown has seen the digital landscape grow sharply as many physical activities and experiences were forced to suddenly cease because of government regulation.

The gradual shift to online activity has been clear for many years, but the recent circumstances have pushed online adoption forward the best part of decade, as consumers were forced to dispense with any lingering doubts holding them back. And with more consumers online, there is a larger opportunity to increase demand and drive sales through online advertising.

The online advertising market was valued at $304.0 billion last year, and projections suggest this could rise to $982.82 billion by 2025. The impact of the market conditions in 2020 could see these projections rise and highlight an incredible opportunity for digital marketers. Intelligent online adverts are crucial for advertisers to ensure that they reach the exact demographic that they want to influence. With such a large proportion of the world now using the internet for activities such as retail, discovering your audience and serving them appropriate ads is more crucial to success than ever.

However, wherever there is an opportunity for businesses, there is also one for those looking to perform malicious activities for financial gain – and this industry is no different, with ad fraud a widespread issue. In the modern landscape, this is driven by bots that can act as human users. This allows fraudsters to create fake social media engagement, stream music on loop to inflate royalties revenue – or even produce fake reviews. This can also include app install fraud and in H1 2020, $1.6 billion was exposed to these activities according to research by AppsFlyer.

Various types of ad fraud have been an issue for multiple years, so the challenge of fighting this will be no surprise to the market. The problem is growing and currently equates for between 20 percent to 35 percent of all ad impressions. As with all types of fraud, the perpetrators are constantly creating new ploys to trick the market, and this is why the industry has to throw everything it can at fighting it.

Ad Fraud Operating in the Shadows

With thousands of intermediaries, many of which are legitimate, working in the delivery of online ads, it’s easy for fraudsters to hide and increasingly difficult for companies to track activity. A typical use case in this instance could be a third-party company that is claiming to be broadcasting a brand’s advert to its target audience but is displaying it to incorrect demographics.

Despite the ad being displayed in the wrong places, the brand still pays for the privilege. This can also be compounded by click fraud, where malicious users allow bots to click ads and drive revenue on a pay-per-click basis. This is a big problem for brands in all industries as it amounts to wasted budgets.

See What Users See

There is a constant arms race between brands and fraudsters to get ahead of the game. There can be no doubt that fraudsters have damaged the industry, but brands have a new tool in their armory, and this could be vital to turning the tide.

With targeted ads being based on an individual’s IP address, an advantage can be realized by brands, as they can now mimic this activity themselves. For example, if brands are targeting certain demographics based on region or device, they can now view the ad as one of those users, thanks to the use of a data collection network, based on an IP proxy network.

The key to fighting ad fraud is to use typical consumers IP or residential IP addresses (who have willingly and actively opted-into the network in return of significant benefits) to simulate the presence of legitimate users.

The benefit of this technique is two-fold as it allows brands to see what their customers are seeing, but also residential IPs are harder for fraudsters to pick up. Typically, if they spot data center IPs tracking activity, they will change course as they realize they may be being tracked.

Residential IPs – a Vital Weapon in the War on Ad Fraud

As fraudsters get more sophisticated, it is important that brands undertake activities such as this. Due to the financial benefits from their activity, fraudsters are used to working to adapt very quickly and working at increased scale – the same tactics need to be deployed by brands.

The most effective way to achieve this is through the use of a residential IP network, as this can leverage the real IP addresses of consumers, allowing businesses to see advertising campaigns exactly as real consumers see them.

To maximize ROI, it’s vital that ads are seen by the desired demographic – including the correct people, in the right places at the best time. With the online market up for grabs at its largest ever, it has never been more vital for brands to double down in their fight against fraudsters, and the use of residential IPs means this is more achievable than ever before.

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