Earlier this week, we reported on a study that found nearly one in five clicks on mobile advertisements were fraudulent. These clicks represent a tremendous waste of ad spending. So we asked experts about the best ways for advertisers on both mobile devices and Web sites to avoid fraudulent clicks.
The study by Trademob said 40% of all clicks were either fraudulent clicks by publishers and bots looking to boost ad revenue or accidental clicks. Combined, the fraudulent and accidental clicks had conversion rates of less than 0.01%, making them essentially worthless to advertisers.
Advertisers can reduce this waste by choosing ad placement services carefully, according to industry executives interviewed by ReadWriteWeb. They offered a short list of pointers to avoiding click fraud.
Advertisers are missing the bigger picture if they focus only on clickthrough rates, said Anthony Iacovone, CEO and founder of AdTheorent, a mobile ad network that prices ad placements through real-time bidding. Advertisers need to make sure their ads reach the right audience, he said, and they must also be able to detect fraudulent clicks in real time. Both problems may be solved partially using analytics like those provided by AdTheorent.
“Post-click conversion tracking and analytics are key to mitigating this problem,” Iacovone said. “Sixty percent of accurate click-throughs in mobile is still significantly better than in interactive and display. Real-time bidding is unique in that it's able to flag anomalies, so by immediately being able to uncover deviations from the mean, we identify and weed out the fraudulent clicks.”
AdTruth offers sophisticated device-recognition technology to better detect where clicks are coming from and flag potentially fraudulent clicks.
“Because these elements are intrinsic to a device, they cannot be spoofed," wrote James Lamberti, vice president and general manager of AdTruth, in an email. "This allows advertisers and ad platforms determine whether or not clicks were generated by legitimate users. For example, if an advertiser saw a spike in activity with a high number of clicks sourced from a single device, it would raise a red flag. Complex device recognition gives advertisers the confidence that they are actually reaching their intended audiences.”
Focus On Return On Investment
Nonetheless, click fraud can be a distraction, noted Josh Dreller, senior director at Visual IQ, a marketing intelligence company. Focusing solely on click fraud on a particular platform may prevent advertisers from seeing how all of their online and mobile marketing efforts are working together to drive conversions.
“Digital media should be judged holistically on how efficiently it generates ROI, sales, leads, downloads, et cetera," Dreller said. "At its core, the question that marketing attribution is trying to answer is: What’s actually driving my success? How are all my online channels working together to drive those conversions? What is the ROI on my media spend?
In this perspective, fraudulent clicks may not be a problem at all. "Even if 80% of a given marketer’s clicks on Facebook are coming from bots," Dreller pointed out, "if your attribution analytics are telling you that a channel's performance is meeting your expectations, or exceeding the performance of other channels, it is still a channel worth your investment.”