Published April 23, 2018

Advertising is often an essential part of running an online business, which has meant an increasing demand from ad buyers for high-quality advertising space that can generate new leads. However, because the digital advertising process is so complicated, there are multiple opportunities for fraudsters to sell them advertising space that is never seen by an actual human.

One of the ways they do this is to create “cash out” sites that are built specifically to run ads. Essentially, a fraudster will set up a fake website and populate it with things like celebrity gossip, news, or other popular content.

They then purchase cheap bot traffic, and once they steer it to their site, it makes it seem as if the website has a lot of online visitors browsing through their content. Ad networks see that this site is getting a lot of traffic and include it in their inventory, which means that when it gets sold to ad buyers, the fraudster gets paid a lot of money in advertising revenue.

Most of these sites attract virtually no traffic other than bot visitors, which means that advertisers spend a lot of money on ads that are never viewed by real people. Over the years, this scheme has become so lucrative that some studies now indicate that 1 in 5 of all websites are a “cash-out” site, built specifically for fraudulent activity. 1

With so little transparency in the digital ad buying process, companies have little recourse and often don’t even realize that they are being defrauded. They simply assume they were unlucky that the campaign failed to gain much traction and will often reinvest in similar campaigns later in the future.

Instead, businesses need to ensure as much as possible that their budgets are not being wasted on fueling cash out sites and targeting bot traffic. NS8 Protect and NS8 TrueStats score ad campaigns by looking at a variety of metrics to identify low-quality ad impressions. This ensures that a business can see what campaigns are underperforming and where fraud is occurring, allowing them to focus their budgets on gaining high-quality ad impressions.

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