The Growing Issue Of Advertising Scams: A Review By Marketing 2.0 Conference


With the demand for digital advertising skyrocketing over the last couple of years, it’s no wonder companies prioritize assigning a large chunk of their budget to advertise. Being a high-stakes environment, scammers were bound to pop up in order to divert portions of ad budgets into their own pockets.

At its core, ad scams involve falsifying the number of times an ad pops up or is clicked upon to generate unsolicited revenue. With the use of bot clicks, scammers are able to eat into ad budgets. Conferences for marketing professionals, notably Marketing 2.0 Conference, have made it a priority to shed light on this increasing trend of ad scams, covering the different types & prevention methods to help companies prevent massive amounts of loss.

It is critical to be aware of the different types of scams in the market to ensure effective prevention methods can be applied. Here’s a quick dive into these scams and some effective preventive methods -

Scammers Use Wrong Cookies

Cookies are small bits of code used to track user behavior and interests. By deploying cookies, brands can be made aware of user likenesses & interests to get an idea about how their ad campaigns are performing. However, directly influencing ad payouts, cookies have become a go-to for scammers to commit advertising-based fraud.

By using cookies affiliated with different websites, scammers can earn revenue on any sales made without having done anything to influence these sales. The use of bots to create an impression of legitimate clicks on websites is another way ad scammers can use cookies to commit fraud right under companies’ noses. The use of either of the cookie stuffing methods hurts ad revenues and effectiveness that companies tend to see through their digital marketing campaigns.

Experts, making use of their platform at marketing events & conferences, have provided useful insights into the different types of cookie stuffing methods being used and what companies can do when it comes to preventing such scams.

Growing Usage Of Bots

Apart from cookie injections, another go-to for scammers has been the use of bots to impersonate an increase in ad clicks. Although just an illusion of more traffic coming in, companies will be motivated to increase ad budgets based on these developments. This works out perfectly for scammers relying on the pay-per-click (PPC) model, as they are to continue pumping bots to pocket more of the company’s ad revenue.

Playing on the sudden increase in traffic coupled with ignorance from the publishers, brands end up losing a good chunk of their ad revenue to bot clicks before they’re made aware of any suspicious activities being conducted on their website.

Domain Spoofing

In the past, major companies have found themselves in a deep hole due to the fraudulent concept of domain spoofing. A straightforward phenomenon, domain spoofing involves scammers impersonating a high-value website as ad space and charging brands premium prices to display their ads, all the while keeping them in the dark about the website being a low-budget impersonator. Industry experts at global marketing conferences have repeatedly shed light upon how spoofing has infiltrated the world of scams in a variety of ways, with some of the major ones being -

  1. Email Spoofing - Scammers have been known to use emails as a medium to lure users into visiting malicious and unwanted websites by impersonating a known sender, be it a colleague or friend. By luring users onto malicious websites, scammers can sometimes retrieve sensitive information through website clicks.
  2. Custom & Human Browsers - Diving into the complexities of domain spoofing, the use of custom browsers is not unheard of. With the use of custom browsers, bots can reach websites that conventional browsers generally don’t have access to. In doing so, they’re able to impersonate a premium ad space for brands to facilitate their advertising, unaware that the revenue generated leads back to the URL being used to impersonate the hosting website.

Human browsers, on the other hand, act similarly to common forms of adware. When the user visits the desired website using the infected machine, the malware inserts an ad into that page, with the revenue being diverted to the scammer and not the original source.

Geo Masking

For brands, the essential purpose of advertising is to target a specific demographic, ideal to their product and brand values. For some, doing so successfully involves targeting a specific location. Due to the data being volatile, scammers are able to send false location data, allowing them to hide where the traffic is coming from and sell non-valuable data to brands at premium prices. Advertisers present at marketing events & conferences have touched base on how they tend to be directly affected through geo masking, seeing how they end up paying for advertising under the false pretense of investing in an effective platform.

Ad Injections

Ever found yourself scrolling through a webpage when suddenly, new advertisements is being added to the page in real-time? This process of displaying multiple ads overlapping each in real time is known as an ad injection. Generally designated to spread malware through the installation of an unwanted extension or app, ad injections are capable of causing havoc in the world of e-commerce as a growing trend of unwanted malware and extensions being onboarded can put the high revenue world of advertising at risk.

As a volatile sector, advertising is bound to be hit by scammers in various ways. Having mentioned some of the major ones, there’s still a long list of ways fraudsters take a dig at revenue streams from advertising campaigns globally. Leaders and researchers taking the stage at global marketing conferences, notably Marketing 2.0 Conference, emphasize having no room for procrastination when it comes to setting up preventive measures against these scams. Amongst these are some of the industry-standard security measures being taken, notably -

Taking Time To Pick An Ad Vendor

The first step to preventing ad fraud from occurring starts right at the foundation, i.e., researching and picking an ad vendor with a strict & transparent platform. Finding the right fit when it comes to your advertising needs can be key. Ad tech vendors offering top-notch monitoring quality and consistent reports on any malware threats are generally a good place to begin when finding the right network for your business. Staying on top of keyword plagiarism as well as bot deployment can also be extremely beneficial, associated with choosing the right vendor for your business.

Integration Of Ads.Txt File

Invaluable introductions to the advertising industry are more often than not discussed during panel discussions at conferences for marketing professionals. The integration of ads.txt files, short for “ Authorized Digital Sellers,” is an initiative by the IAB tech lab. The use of these files allows publishers to publicly declare the advertisers, exchanges & SSPs that are permitted to sell their inventory. Following the adoption by Google, ads.txt caught on as an industry standard when it comes to protection against domain spoofing & arbitrage.

Close Monitoring

A given when it comes to taking preventative measures, monitoring your ad campaigns closely can save you from a lot of headaches down the road. Attending conferences for marketing professionals can help emphasize the importance of statistical monitoring, hearing it firsthand from experts and seasoned veterans in the industry. By being aware of what a “normal” day of traffic looks like for your brand, monitoring traffic can benefit you in the following ways -

  • Ad Clicks - Being up to date on the amount of traffic accumulated in proportion to the click rates can instantly alert you of any suspicious activity related to ad clicks.
  • Prevention of Geo Fraud - Any activity related to your ad campaigns outside of the designated geographical area can be flagged instantaneously.
  • Correction In Metrics - Irregular figures in your revenue metrics can be spotted and fixed instantly, preventing a leakage of revenue caused by scammers trying to penetrate your ad campaign.
Benefits of monitoring user behavior

User behaviors are the patterns and behavioral tendencies human users display when interacting with a web page. Using analytical tools to study and predict behaviors can be key in preventing fraudulent activities associated with your ad campaigns. A few behavioral tendencies to keep in mind when preventing bots from infecting your campaign are -

  • Number of clicks
  • Scrolling speed
  • Verification captchas
  • Mouse movement

As digital advertising eventually takes over the marketing sector, the risk factor grows exponentially as well. With advertisers willing to pump revenue into their ad campaigns, security measures to detect fraud in the early stages must be implemented. As a marketing professional, staying on top of the current market trends, which in turn will keep you updated about the latest in advertising scams, can be crucial.

Global marketing conferences, notably Marketing 2.0 Conference, are beneficial for this very reason, keeping you in the loop with everything marketing and exposing professionals to the latest & most innovative perspectives being presented to the market. Catch industry experts & innovators, and engage in problem-solving panel discussions and critical engagements amongst fellow industry professionals at the three-day event, Marketing 2.0 Conference, hosted in Dubai and the USA, 2023! To learn more, refer to the link -

Shams Raza

Shams Raza oversees the Marketing 2.0 Conference team and is committed to staying current with social media and advertising developments. A number of hot issues will be covered at the next Marketing 2.0 Conference, including taking a stand on societal issues, the rise of fraud, scams, and spam in the advertising industry, and how gamification is going to take over the internet.