Affiliate marketing is a proven method to increase quality leads for companies. However, there are many variables that can impact the quality and validity of online leads. There are also deceitful entities who aim to make click fraud and generate false conversions in order to take advantage of unsuspecting companies that don’t closely monitor their affiliate programs.
There are steps you can take in order to protect your affiliate program from click fraud. Lemonads has developed a range of protection strategies to protect our partners from click fraud and other forms. We know the steps to take to ensure that your affiliate program is secure.
This article will discuss click fraud and the various types of fraudulent activities that can be categorized under it. We’ll also talk about how they impact your program and what you can do in order to protect it from fraudsters.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud can be used to refer to a variety of fraudulent activities carried out by various deceitful entities. Click fraud is a malicious interaction that causes an advertiser to charge them without offering any return value.
The main purpose of an affiliate marketing program is to gather information about prospects and leads to convert these leads into customers. Click fraud is a problem that causes advertisers to collect invalid information which doesn’t lead to qualified leads or sales.
A fraudulent click is a basic interaction between an “user” and an advertisement. However, this type of malicious interaction may occur in other parts of the affiliate ecosystem.
Fraudsters will submit leads to affiliate advertisers that appear to have come from trusted channels. However, the data collected is not accurate or real. Advertisers don’t know about fraudulent interactions and pay for them.
Click fraud can either be committed by human users, bots, or software programs that imitate real users on their smartphones or computers. It is important to remember that click fraud does not just happen. Illegitimate interactions are always caused by an entity.
Does Click Fraud Affect Your Program?
Before we get into details, it is important to understand the difference between malicious interactions and unwelcome clicks.
Unwanted clicks is a term that describes interactions that don’t provide value to advertisers but are not from malicious parties. If your program isn’t properly structured, affiliates could attract irrelevant traffic, which you will still need to pay for. Click fraud is a fraudulent activity that is carried out by an individual or organization with the sole purpose of extracting money from unknown stakeholders.
Click fraud is usually directed at a particular advertiser. This can have a devastating effect on a company’s partner programs. Click fraud can have negative consequences on affiliate programs.
Conversion costs increase exponentially
Click fraud has the obvious negative effect of increasing conversion costs exponentially. This is not always obvious, as fraudulent clicks can appear to be legitimate interactions at first. Advertisers end up paying for them.
However, businesses can start to review conversions and verify their validity. This increases the value of real leads generated.
You are losing your marketing budget
Click fraud, aside from inflating your conversion costs, is detrimental to your marketing budget because it doesn’t provide any return on your marketing investment. Affiliate marketing has one major advantage: it is performance-based. If a company doesn’t receive valid leads and pays out commissions for each one, it will be difficult to get a positive return on investment (ROI).
Fraudulent conversions can also cause budget drain and high conversion costs. While this creates many problems, the most important is that it gives advertisers false statistics to make them believe their programs are effective.
Fools Companies Get into Wasting Funds
While it’s possible to influence program metrics, remember that many businesses spend a lot of money optimizing their programs and providing resources to affiliates. Companies that receive constant fraudulent traffic are more likely than others to waste money by improving on incorrect data.
This is similar to the other disadvantages. Many businesses optimize their affiliate programs multiple times or once using false data. This can lead to even more fraud, which in turn hinders the program’s performance.
It also impacts publishers and consumers.
Click fraud is a problem that many advertisers don’t realize. They only care about protecting their programs. Click fraud can affect the entire advertising ecosystem, including consumers and trusted content publishers.
Consumers have become accustomed to personalized online marketing experiences. However, large numbers of click fraud are disrupting the ecosystem. Instead of seeing targeted ads, consumers see irrelevant content, which ultimately leads to a change in how they feel when browsing the internet.
Publishers of reliable content are often under immense pressure to implement security measures and keep up with the fraudsters. Not all publishers can afford top-notch fraud protection. This limits the number of monetization strategies they have.
How to protect your affiliate program from click fraud
Some projections show that click fraud could cost the entire marketing industry 50 billion dollars annually by 2025. All stakeholders must take immediate action to protect themselves against fraudsters, including advertisers, in order to avoid this.
Let’s look at what you can do to protect your program against fraudulent conversions.
Learn the Journey of the Buyer
Marketers who are knowledgeable know that the buyer’s journey helps businesses map the steps their customers take before they make a purchase. The buyer’s journey is also a key tool to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent transactions.
Deceitful interactions, whether they are performed by bots or real people, don’t follow the same behavior pattern as legitimate clicks. You can help your anti-fraud mechanism if you are able to understand the buyer’s journey and apply additional filters to reduce deceitful interactions.
Use Traffic Validation Tools
Once you have an understanding of your audience, you can begin to look into traffic validation tools alternatives. A traffic validation platform, as the name implies, allows you to verify that your affiliates are generating legitimate conversions.
There are many options available so it is difficult to choose the right platform. It is easy to compare the features of different providers and determine which one is best for your affiliate program.
Support initiatives that want to create a more transparent internet
One of the many international initiatives to combat online ad fraud is The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). Advertisers, as well as other stakeholders, should actively look to join these initiatives. They should also participate in activities that reduce fraud and create a more transparent environment.
Fraudulent entities continue to develop new forms of fraud, and they can target different points within the company. It is important to inform your employees about ad fraud and how it can affect your business.
You should primarily work with daytime traffic
Research shows that conversion fraud is most prevalent between midnight and seven in morning. Because fraudulent bots work during this time, there is less traffic overall, fewer human monitors and more bandwidth. Advertisers can reduce fraudulent conversions by limiting their daytime traffic.
void Targeting Older Browsers
Most browsers include security updates that protect them from being hijacked by bots. Fraudsters often use older browsers that lack enhanced security features to orchestrate attacks. Advertisers have the option to choose which browsers they wish to target. You should ensure that affiliates only use new browsers to generate leads.
Make sure you identify the real culprit
Even if the fraud is minimal, there’s still a chance your program will experience fraudulent interactions. While prevention is important, a small amount of fraud can help you identify the culprit and take steps to protect your program against future attacks.
Advertisers have full control over their affiliate programs, as we mentioned earlier. You can make an internal blacklist if you have identified fraud instances and identify the source. This will allow you to avoid working with entities linked to invalid traffic.
Create or revise your Anti-Fraud policy
According to our experience, companies without an anti-fraud program have a harder time eliminating illegitimate traffic. Advertisers should take the time and review their anti-fraud policies to ensure that they are current on deceitful activity.
Incorporate Click Fraud Protection into Your Budget
Click fraud is a major problem for advertisers because many companies only take a reactive approach. You should instead address the issue early and include click fraud protection in your budget.
Reliable Affiliate Networks are a great way to partner with us
Advertisers who manage their affiliate programs themselves fall prey to click fraud. This is because they lack the resources and expertise to verify the traffic. If you are in this situation, it is a good idea to form a partnership with an affiliate network such as lemonads. This will ensure that you only work alongside reliable affiliates and that all conversions come from legitimate traffic.
Are you ready to create a fraud-free affiliate program? Lemonads is here to help
Lemonads has developed traffic verification and fraud prevention protocols in-house that help us create a safe environment for all our partners. Contact us today to find out more about protecting your affiliate program against click fraud and how you can work with our team.
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