Impression Fraud

EMM glossary term: Impression Fraud

The act of deliberately generating impressions of an advert without the intention of clicking on the advert. The result is a reduction in click through rate which can affect Quality Score in PPC advertising. Impression fraud is a fraud on the Internet in the type of advertising known as Pay per Click. Pay per Click means that an advertiser must pay to Google, or whichever online advertising agency they use, every time someone clicks on the ad. It is believed that people are employed to do this kind of work for these agencies, to increase their benefit. Or they employ robots to do so. It is a fraud because ads are being clicked even though there is no interest in the product, and the advertiser spends money without any benefit from it.

There are a few types of impression fraud. These are: hidden ad impressions, video ad fraud, fake sites, ad re-targeting fraud and paid traffic fraud. Hidden ad impressions are made from fraudsters which put ads in invisible, virtual spaces. Fraudsters create fake sites containing only ad slots and either no content or generic content often repeated from one fake page to the next. None of these sites draw huge traffic but networks of fake sites sold on programmatic ad exchanges can generate millions in revenues taken together. Fraudulent video ads are also as much as ten times more lucrative than banner ads thanks to higher CPMs. Fraudulent video ads are often stacked, invisible (the 1×1 windows), or played in the background (where the consumer can’t see them). Publishers buy “traffic” from third parties to generate more unique visitors to their sites. The ANA/WhiteOps study found that 52 percent of that traffic is from bots, and occurs most often between midnight and 7 AM. Bots can be programmed to mimic specific and highly desirable consumers’ online behaviour, such as home or car buyers. The bot goes to relevant websites and acts like a consumer interested in making a purchase, researching topics and clicking on ads, but not necessarily actually making a purchase.