Online Ad Fraud Costs Everyone

Don't lie, cheat, or steal.

Photo Credit: Instagram/J. MacPherson

According to a recent investigation by Adweek, there are as many as 500 fraudulent websites that are corrupting real-time bidding advertising exchanges. What does this mean? If you are a small business owner or have a start-up business, it could mean a great deal of money to your marketing budget.

Advertising your business online is highly competitive. The pricing differs from network to network and from industry to industry. With most consumers getting their information online, via search engines like Google and Bing, advertising to be found is an important part of your digital marketing efforts. For some small businesses, it can be critical.

This is why the $400 million-a-year cost of online fraud is so important. It’s difficult enough to rank against your competitors, especially if you are a small business facing larger businesses with bigger budgets and against better known brands. Online fraud in the advertising space has increased so rapidly that it’s hard to tell which sites are legitimate and which aren’t. What can you do to help ensure that your online advertising dollars are being spent wisely, especially in light of botnets and fake clicks and the massive volume?

Whether you do an ad buy yourself for your business or you have an agency or advertising bidding for you, know the site your online ads will appear on. Is it a so-called “garbage” site? Does it look like people — your potential customers — are reading the articles there? How are the articles written? Is it original content or does it look like it came from another website? What about the spelling and grammar? Does the deal look too good to be true? What about the pricing? If the bid is a fraction of a penny per click, odds are that this isn’t a real site.

To learn more about how prevalent online fraud is becoming in the advertising space (especially in real-time bidding, a segment that is expected to book $13.9 billion annually by 2016), be sure to read Mike Shields’ article for AdWeek.