Some advertisers are wasting over 80% of their ad budgets by failing to request refunds from online advertising networks
Online advertising is a massive industry, with companies giving advertising networks roughly USD 500 billion every year to advertise their products and services to web users. One of the industry’s biggest secrets is click fraud – cyber-criminals generate fake clicks on ads, resulting in substantial losses for advertisers, and huge profits for the advertising networks and criminals.
Click fraud works like this: Criminals create websites and contact ad networks like Microsoft Ads to request publisher advertising accounts. These publisher advertising accounts allow criminals to place other companies adverts on their scam websites. The criminals then send large amounts of “bots” – software pretending to be human – to their websites to click on the ads. For each of these clicks, the advertisers pay fees to the ad networks, and the ad networks share the money with the cyber-criminals.
According to Trey Vanes, Chief Marketing Officer at click fraud detection firm Polygraph, criminals are stealing billions of dollars from advertisers every month.
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“A typical click fraud gang will run dozens of websites, with each of these websites fleecing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each month from advertisers,” said Vanes. “Most advertisers are unaware of this, as they don’t use a click fraud detection service like Polygraph to monitor their clicks for fraud. As a result, they have no record of the fake clicks on their ads, so they’re unable to claim refunds from the ad networks”.
One of the challenges facing advertisers is the fact the ad networks get paid for every click – genuine or fraudulent.
“Some advertising networks do make a genuine effort to detect fake clicks, but many don’t. A cynical person might say there’s a conflict of interest here. If the ad networks get paid for every click, and the advertisers aren’t aware of the fraud, is it really in the ad networks interest to detect and refund every fake click? Regardless of what the truth may be, you’re at risk of throwing away a portion of your ad budget if you aren’t monitoring your ad clicks for fraud and demanding refunds from the ad networks,” said Vanes.
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Each ad network has a policy in place for processing refunds. Getting a click fraud refund from Google Ads requires your Google Ads’ customer ID, a contact e-mail address, the affected ad campaign, and a brief explanation of why you’re requesting a refund. According to Vanes, Polygraph gives advertisers everything they need to claim a refund. “Polygraph gives the dates and times of the clicks, the IP addresses, the affected campaigns, and the reasons why the clicks are fraudulent. We make it easy for advertisers to get refunds from Google Ads. Additionally, getting a click fraud refund from Microsoft Ads (Bing Ads) is even easier. Microsoft Ads only require you send them a list of the fake clicks, as well as some information identifying your advertising account. Polygraph can help with this.”
Polygraph helps advertisers monitor fake clicks, so click fraud is easily identified. “By using Polygraph to monitor your ads for click fraud, Polygraph can tell you which clicks are fake, why they’re fake, and where the click came from. Advertisers can use this information to prevent click fraud and get refunds from the ad networks”, added Vanes.