Cybersecurity firm Polygraph has identified a devious click fraud scam affecting high value search advertisements, costing advertisers millions of dollars every day.
According to Trey Vanes, Polygraph’s head of marketing, click fraud scammers are taking advantage of a digital marketing technique known as ‘retargeting’ to force high value advertisements to appear on click fraud websites.
“Retargeting is a marketing technique which redisplays ads to people who’ve previously shown an interest in a website,” said Vanes. “For example, let’s say you visit a website and add something to the shopping cart, but don’t proceed with the purchase. As you continue browsing the internet, you’ll be ‘retargeted’ with ads for the website, hoping you’ll come back and become a customer.
“Scammers program bots to search for high value ad keywords on search engines like Google and Bing. The bots click on the search results, including the ads, and generate fake conversions on the websites they visit, such as adding items to a shopping cart, or submitting fake data to a leads form.
“The bots then navigate to the scammers’ websites, where they’re presented with high value ads for the websites they just visited. The bots then click on the ads, which earns money for both the scammers and ad network.”
Vanes says the scam targets specific advertising keywords, and is not random.
“The scammers are smart,” said Vanes. “They don’t want to click on random ads, but instead program their bots to search for high value keywords. We can see the keywords they’re targeting are skewed towards finance, law, travel, medicine, and education.
“By targeting these high value keywords, the scammers trick retargeting algorithms to display lucrative ads on their click fraud websites, which maximizes their potential income.”
Vanes says advertisers can protect themselves against retargeting click fraud.
“It’s possible to avoid the scammers’ bots by removing the targeted ad keywords from your advertising campaigns”, said Vanes. “Polygraph makes it easy to prevent click fraud.”
Polygraph helps advertisers detect click fraud, remove at risk keywords from their advertising campaigns, block click fraud websites, and get refunds from the advertising networks.
“We tell our clients if their search keywords are being targeted by bots,” said Vanes. “The keywords can then be removed from their ad campaigns, typically by adding them as negative keywords, which means the bots can no longer see our clients’ ads, and the click fraud problem goes away.
“We list the details of every fake click, such as the referring scam websites, and why the clicks are fraudulent, so advertisers are empowered to block click fraud websites, and apply for click fraud refunds from the ad networks.”
“Polygraph helps advertisers solve their click fraud problem,” added Vanes.
For more information, please visit https://polygraph.net
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