How are paid marketers fighting the Fake Web?

How are paid marketers fighting the Fake Web?

Anyone who manages paid marketing channels knows the importance of being able to accurately report on metrics and KPIs. Often, marketers want to see if their campaigns are driving traffic, conversions, and ultimately pipeline for their go-to-market teams. However, around 40% of the internet today consists of fake traffic, which directly affects marketers’ ability to do their jobs. When bots and fake users interact with paid marketing campaigns, they can reduce the effectiveness of nearly every aspect of advertising.

First, when bots click on ads, the obvious downside is that they take that part of the cost-per-click budget. But the harm doesn’t end there, as they also drive ad spend away from potential customers. Additionally, if audience segments and smart campaigns are infected by bots, they may inadvertently encourage remarketing to other fake users until the ads are completely unusable. Optimizations also become skewed as pixels fire when fake users interact with campaigns, ultimately invalidating all performance metrics.

Fortunately, many paid marketers are realizing these issues, acting diligently and fighting the Fake Web. Throughout this article, we explain ways to identify and combat threats to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns and get the most out of their ad spend.

Checking for time zone mismatches

In the case of mobile and desktop devices, users can choose a Declared Time Zone in their settings. Typically, if the user is a legitimate person going about their daily life, they will choose the time zone in which they live and work most often, so that the Declared Time Zone reflects reality. However, some malicious users may choose to report a different time zone than the one they are actually in so they appear in a time zone that a particular business typically operates in. The reason for this deception is to trick that business into thinking they are a legitimate customer. One way smart pay marketers can spy on such suspicious activity is to check a device’s Declared Time Zone against its actual Device Time Zone. If there is a mismatch, the user may be masking his identity for malicious purposes.

Beware of repetitive behaviors

Bots are programmed to do the same actions over and over. Similarly, malicious human users often engage in high volumes of hacking and fraudulent activities. Also, and perhaps most importantly, botnets try to make an entire botnet look like a single user. So, to protect their campaigns from planned attacks, paid marketers are looking for repetitive behavior coming from the same IP address or user with the same cookie. Identifying repeated malicious behavior can help these marketers stop attacks in their path.

Analyze traffic metric anomalies

Website traffic metrics from paid marketing campaigns can vary based on many naturally occurring factors, such as time of day, keyword strength, and current set campaign budget. That’s why it can be tempting to overlook unusual increases in traffic from ad campaigns and ignore them as if they weren’t a problem. But savvy paid marketers know better. On certain days, unusual increases in website traffic from areas outside of the targeted geographies and unusually high bounce rates can be signs of a bot attack. By carefully analyzing all website traffic, these marketers can quickly identify malicious activities affecting their campaigns.

Searching for user agent inconsistencies

User agents are devices and mechanisms that someone uses to access the internet. For example, someone’s user-agent string might identify them as a tablet user running on the Windows operating system and accessing the internet via Google Chrome. All internet users have a similar set of information about themselves, and most user agents are of alarming nature. However, malicious users may try to manipulate user agents to hide their true properties so that they can more easily commit fraudulent activities undetected. However, marketers who pay close attention to user agents in their analytics platforms are looking for inconsistencies and spotting potential threats. For example, using an Apple device with Android software is nearly impossible, so if something like this pops up on a company’s analytics platform, there’s a good chance the user is manipulating the user agent for malicious purposes.

Re-evaluating traffic sources

Paid marketers take stock of the sources that drive the most traffic to their sites to see if they align with the channels they’ve invested most in. However, if a paid channel is driving a lot of traffic, but that traffic is leading to unusually low conversion rates, something may go wrong. To determine if affiliate programs, content syndication programs, and other paid platforms are sending bot traffic to their sites, paid marketers look closely at this traffic and check to see if behavior across different channels drives the same behavior along the funnel. They essentially look for quirks and inconsistencies throughout the buyer journey and dig deeper to see if any inconsistencies are due to bogus traffic.

Deploy market entry security

Predictably, analyzing all this data alongside running paid marketing campaigns can quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately, there are go-to-market security platforms that can intervene and automate many of these processes. GTMSec is one of the fastest growing categories in cybersecurity, largely because it was designed to address the problems the Fake Web causes specifically for marketers and analysts. Rather than creating solutions for the IT department to protect against fraud, these GTMSec platforms speak the marketer’s language and can help prevent fraudulent activities from infecting their campaigns. Since bots and fake users stand in the way of their marketing goals, it makes sense for paid marketers to prioritize cybersecurity to achieve their goals and KPIs.


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About the author

CHEQ is the go-to-market security suite trusted by over 12,000 customers worldwide to protect their funnels, sites and analytics from bots and fake users. Powered by award-winning cybersecurity technology, CHEQ offers the broadest suite of solutions to secure the entire funnel, from paid marketing to onsite conversion, data and analytics.

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