How Fraudsters Pick Marketers' Pockets

As the global effects of COVID-19 continue to ripple outward, and with global digital advertising spend expected to reach a staggering $360 billion in 2021, cybercriminals are going to extreme lengths to grab a piece of these marketing budgets. And some of the money being stolen could be yours.

Our recent survey into the phenomenon of marketing fraud found that two-thirds of marketers experienced some kind of fraud last year. And that’s just the fraud they know about. Increasingly sophisticated bots are infiltrating their martech stack and infecting their data pool, leading to lower conversion rates, wasted spend on retargeting and data storage, and future campaigns built on shaky ground.

And when 43% of marketers can’t estimate how much of their traffic is due to sophisticated bots, it’s a clear sign that traditional approaches to measuring performance data are no longer reliable. They’re leaving out a key metric: how much of their data is actually bots. Fake. Unhelpful. Useless. Pick your adjective, they’re just not going to do anything but mess up future campaigns and decisions.

For some time, we’ve described fraud not as a measurement problem, but as a cybersecurity problem. The faulty measurements are merely a symptom of the greater issue: cybercriminals are exploiting marketing initiatives to steal money and attention.

Can marketers deal with fraud?

To a marketing team, the only asset more precious than more budget is more time. No marketer can realistically spend all of their time examining the humanity of every name that passes through the system, certainly not expediently enough to allow for the downstream systems to be effective. 

But faced with increasingly sophisticated and aggressive marketing fraud, marketers are shouldering the responsibility to deal with the problem effectively, if it’s being dealt with at all: HUMAN found that 60% of marketers described themselves as being worse than average at handling the problem of marketing fraud. That’s, in large part, a tooling problem. There haven’t been any tools focused specifically on managing bot-based form-fills and the downstream effects that fake web traffic and form-fills can have. It’s been a manual exercise by default, not by design. 

What’s changed?

Marketers, if nothing else, are close to their data. They’re the ones that see all the notifications of new form-fills, all of the web traffic metrics, all of the ebbs and flows of modern data-driven marketing. They’re well-positioned to sound the alarm.

But then what is the solution? Due diligence goes a long way as a preventative: it’s important to work with trusted partners who adhere to IAB standards. This limits the exposure to sub-sub-subcontractors whose focus may drift to sheer volume rather than lead quality.

It’s easy to sit in the catbird seat, however, and suggest that “you should’ve done more to avoid this position in the first place.” It’s harder to fix a truly broken situation than it is to keep it decent. That’s why you get your oil changed every 3,000 miles (okay, maybe five or six thousand…) instead of getting a new engine when it blows out.

That oil change, as it were, is working with a partner that recognizes that the root cause is a cybersecurity issue and has the tools and team in place to combat the issue on its own terms. This immediately opens the door to better conversion rates, improved audience acquisitions costs, and campaign budget savings. Security drives up performance, not just for your company, but for the entire industry as it re-establishes a level playing field.

HUMAN protects you and your budget

The first step is admitting that your marketing efforts are vulnerable to bot fraud. It’s true of many things, including fraud. Marketers can’t continue to whistle past the graveyard and dismiss poor conversion rates as something to be dealt with, not resolved. Marketers need to say, out loud, “yeah, we’ve got bots getting in the way of what we’re trying to do.”

But to get to the root of the problem - that criminal enterprises are committing marketing fraud against your company, draining budgets and time - marketers need to be working with a cybersecurity company specialized in marketing fraud with a multilayered detection approach to find, eradicate and prevent sophisticated bots from infiltrating your data.

With more than 10 trillion interactions verified per week, HUMAN protects you from the full range of sophisticated bot attacks that target performance marketing and advertising. HUMAN uses multilayered, anomaly-based detection solutions that can distinguish even the most sophisticated of bots from real human activity, even if they originate from the same device. 

HUMAN is equipped with the tools, expertise and experience to defeat today's bots and plug the drain on your budget that is seeping away to cyber criminals. And when only real humans are engaging your marketing, as they were intended, marketers can finally do their job, as they were intended.

HUMAN is offering a free 30-day detection evaluation trial to jumpstart efforts to fight marketing fraud. With just a single line of code, marketers will know how much of their traffic is bot vs human.