9 Ad Fraud Warning Signs. How to Detect Fraud in Your Marketing Campaigns?


Ad fraud has already become one of the major threats to marketers worldwide. As it’s getting more and more difficult to detect fraudulent activities, it’s also more challenging to react accordingly and efficiently protect your campaigns. How to recognize that your ad is fraud-affected as early as possible? Here are a few tips from industry experts and the signs that you should never ignore.

What is ad fraud?

To put it shortly, ad fraud means actions aimed to benefit from deceiving digital advertisers. For example, if the traffic in your campaigns seems to be okay, but the revenue is definitely below expectations, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your sales communication is insufficient. This can also indicate that the traffic you gained was mostly fake, as it was generated by bots, not humans.

This phenomenon can obviously make digital marketers anxious. When you invest time and money into online advertising campaigns, you also expect a certain conversion. However, in case most of your views or impressions come from fraudulent activities, you’re simply paying for the traffic that will never convert, and will not help you reach your objectives and goals.

Moreover, bots do not only influence your campaigns by generating fake clicks. They can also nearly perfectly mimic human behavior, which makes it even more difficult to detect ad fraud at a first glance, without advanced tools, and distinguish fake traffic from the real one. This decreases the efficiency of your ad optimization as it distorts your data analytics. The other possible consequences of ad fraud are losing brand safety, missing the targets, and draining your budget.

To learn more about ad fraud, you can go to our article: What is ad fraud and why is it dangerous for your marketing campaign?. Fighting against ad fraud, providing advertisers and business owners with reliable information about their traffic, and saving marketing budgets are our major goals at Travatar.

Ad Fraud Warning Signs

So, how to find out that your marketing campaign is fraud-affected? Let’s take a look at a few signs that you should never ignore, and always consider suspicious.

1. Low conversions

If the number of impressions on clicks in your ad manager looks great, but there are only a few conversions, it’s the first sign that the traffic comes from fraudulent activities. Of course, it can mean that your ad communication is insufficient, but it’s still recommended to find the real reason for poor results before investing in content improvements.

2. Worse performance

If your ad’s performance is notably worse than usual despite the similar visuals and settings, this is the next warning sign that you should be serious about. If there are no specific reasons for significant changes in ads’ performance, it may mean that your ad is manipulated and doesn’t really reach your target audience.

3. Increase in clicks

In case your campaign is on, and the number of clicks is relevantly stable but spikes up randomly, it may indicate bots’ activity. If there are no other reasons for this phenomenon, such as budget increase or modified settings, the clicks may be generated by bots or click farms.

4. High bounce rate

The bounce rate indicates the number of users who visited your page but exited immediately without taking any action. In fact, such activities do not always mean that visitors are not interested in your content, but they are simply bots programmed to generate fake views of your website.

5. High CTR

If your CTR (Click-Through Rate) is higher than average, this may mean that your ad is affected by click fraud. The clicks you see in your ad manager might be generated by click farms, and do not express the real popularity and efficiency of your ads.

6. Wasted budget

If you’re spending a huge amount of money on your campaigns, but have no sufficient sales results and ROI, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong with your ad or product. There are several methods that scammers use to waste your ad budget that do not even impact your clicks or impressions metrics. You can read more about different types of fraudulent activities here.

7. Increased ROAS

The next implication of ad fraud is an increased ROAS. If your campaign is converting quite well, but ROAS is higher than usual, it may be the next sign that your ad is fraud-affected. However, you should treat changes in ROAS as red flags, but detecting the real reason behind it typically requires deeper analysis of data metrics.

8. Suspicious traffic sources

There are a few ways of monitoring traffic on your website. If you observe big traffic coming from the same IP number, this may indicate that these impressions are generated by a click farm. Traffic coming from remote locations that are not your target area (e.g. another continent) is also suspicious.

9. Incoherent analytics

If you’re using more than one analytical tool, and they present different data for the same campaign, this may indicate that ad fraud is involved. Some tools have more sufficient fraud and bot protection measures than others and are able to eliminate fraudulent activities more effectively. This is why it’s so important to verify the quality of your traffic with at least one analytical tool from an independent provider, not an advertisement platform owner.

How to detect ad fraud? The summary

So how to make sure that your ads are not affected by ad fraud, and what kind of actions should you take once you detect it?

As we have already explained, in case you suspect ad fraud in your campaigns, hold on with investing in ad optimization or spending even more budget on boosting them to finally get any results. Before you do any of these things, you better invest in one of the tools that will help you to reveal ad fraud.

There are several solutions that you can use to monitor the activities around your advertisements. You can simply start by analyzing data provided by Facebook Ads Manager or Google Analytics. However, although they provide you with some insights into the ad fraud in your campaign, they typically don’t present the full dimension of the problem. This is why it’s recommended to use independent tools and not those provided by the advertising platforms that, in the end, profit from fake traffic.

For example, at Travatar we offer comprehensive solutions supporting companies and advertisers in ad fraud detection. Such dedicated tools will help you to generate reliable and detailed reports presenting all activity around your ads and find out what is the real dimensions of ad fraud. Thanks to the complex reporting system filtering real, fake, and suspicious traffic, you will be able to easily analyze the impact of ad fraud on your campaign and take relevant actions.

Would you like to protect your campaigns against ad fraud? Feel free to contact us. As experts in the field of technology and digital marketing, we will provide you with solutions that will protect your advertisement budget from being drained and increase your ROI.