A marketeer’s guide to programmatic ad fraud

Programmatic advertising automates the buying and selling of online ads. It’s practical because the process is faster and proper. However, it has its own challenges. 

Ad fraud is a mind-numbing matter for marketing teams. To avoid it, you should understand it from every angle

Let’s learn how to protect your programmatic ads from fraud.

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    A marketeer's guide to programmatic ad fraud

    How programmatic ad fraud works

    How can fraudsters generate click fraud or else? Now, look at the common programmatic ad fraud methods.

    • Bots and botnets mimic human behavior to generate fake clicks (click fraud) or impressions (impression fraud) with automated software.
    • Ad stacking allows to layer multiple ads in one ad slot. However, only the top ad is visible to visitors.
    • Pixel stuffing lets ads squeeze into tiny slots—often 1×1 pixel. Visitors can’t see the ad, but all impressions are counted. 
    • With ad injection, fraudsters can insert unwanted ads into websites without consent. These ads may replace existing ads or appear in non-ad spaces.
    • Domain spoofing fraudsters use fake domains to trick advertisers into overpaying for non-quality websites.
    • Cookie stuffing drops third-party cookies on users’ devices without their consent.
    • Device spoofing generates software and hardware information to fool monitoring systems.
    • Retargeting fraud takes advantage of the price advertisers pay for retargeting.

    How does programmatic ad fraud affect your business

    The average fraud rate among programmatic display ads is approximately 10%. For this reason, programmatic ad fraud must be seriously considered because brands may face serious consequences.

    Fraudsters aim to manipulate ad impressions, clicks, or conversions with programmatic ad fraud.

    Financial losses: Who wants to waste their ad budget? If fraud happened, advertisers have to pay for non-existent clicks or impressions because clicks on this ad aren’t real people. Therefore, advertisers won’t get conversions, and marketing budget will eventually run out.

    Brand reputation: Fraudulent ads can appear on inappropriate websites, so this situation may damage your brand’s image. Besides, how will you reach your target audience and marketing goals with irrelevant websites? That is, you’ll need to make more effort to succeed.

    Data accuracy: Irrelevant websites, fake clicks, fake impressions… Sure, all these leads skew the analysis. Thus, wrong data misguides marketing strategies. Besides, tracking campaign performances will be challenging because of the inaccurate data.

    Detecting programmatic ad fraud

    What about detecting programmatic ad fraud? How will you fight against it? First, you must be careful about suspicious activities in your ad campaigns. For example, unusually high click-through rates or a sudden spike in campaign traffic may indicate fraudulent activity. 

    Additionally, you can use AI and machine learning technologies to detect fraud. It’s a more effortless way. By monitoring and scoring IPs with these tools, you can protect your programmatic ads from fraud. They’ll detect unreal clicks, traffic, and conversions. The best thing is that you’ll get real-time notifications to warn you. So, find a suitable programmatic ad fraud detection tool for your business.  

    Another solution is to work with the right technology partner. In this way, you can reduce your risk—research potential partners well before partnering with one of them. 

    Reach us now for custom solutions.

    What are the most effective programmatic ad fraud prevention software solutions?

    • Human Security (formerly known as White Ops): They detect and remove bot-borne real-time threats.
    • DoubleVerify: With a mission to make the advertising ecosystem safer, they aim for brands to increase the effectiveness of their online advertising.
    • Integral Ad Science (IAS): Based on trust and transparency, they try to ensure that real people see advertisements on relevant placements.
    • Oracle MOAT: Moat analytics advanced attention metrics analyze pre- and post-bids and offer solutions for brand safety, pass-through traffic avoidance, and viewability.
    • Pixalate: Using real-time fraud solutions, they help identify invalid traffic for mobile, Connected TV, and websites.
    • AdSecure: Their three-staged strategy offers full detection and protection by automating your ad verification process before ad campaigns go live and while running. 
    • Forensiq by Impact: Their determined team of data scientists continually innovates technologies and strategies to protect your digital spending.
    • Anura: Regardless of industry and marketing channel, Anura protects your web assets and ensures that real people see your content.
    • TrafficGuard: They prevent bots and fraudsters from playing havoc with your digital ads.

    The question is actually “what kind of actions can be taken for programmatic ad fraud?” Here are various actions: 

    • Ad verification tools ensure your ads are placed on relevant content and seen by real people in the right geolocation.
    • Bot detection solutions identify and block non-human traffic.
    • Ad fraud detection tools check fake clicks and views by monitoring your ads. Also, they may be powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence.
    • Know your traffic sources. Work with reliable publishers to minimize the fraudulent traffic risk. 
    • You can report the results to platforms like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) if you see weird ad activities. These organizations fight against ad fraud and may investigate your case.
    • Regularly monitor your ad campaign data for unusual behaviors.
    • Educate your team about ad fraud risks and prevention strategies.
    • Make sure your advertising contracts and agreements are safe from fraud. Otherwise, when there is a problem, you may not be able to demand anything from the contractor for a solution.
    • Implement secure ad-serving protocols on your website.
    • Verify payment and billing information for ad campaigns.
    • Consider using third-party auditing to pinpoint ad budget concerns, which may sign fraud.

    To sum up, advertisers can better detect and address ad fraud by staying alert and using advanced softwares.


    The last one we can say is programmatic ad fraud never stops. As technology evolves, fraudsters will find new ways. The ongoing battle against ad fraud will remain an industry challenge. Nevertheless, advertisers can keep protecting their ad budgets and maintaining their reliability. They must just understand programmatic ad fraud workings, results, and prevention methods.

    Are you still struggling?

    Contact our experts now if you have more questions or need a custom solution for your brand. We’re ready to shed light on programmatic ads concerns for you.

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