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How to Prevent Fraud in Affiliate Marketing How to Prevent Fraud in Affiliate Marketing

Tips & Guides — 27 Mar 2023

Fraud Prevention in Affiliate Marketing

How to Prevent Fraud in Affiliate Marketing

According to a new study from Juniper Research advertisers lost around $42 billion from the ad budget to fraudulent activities committed via online, mobile and in-app advertising in 2019. In comparison to the $35 billion lost to advertising fraud in 2018, this is a 20% increase. This growth tendency is notably formidable when we see that in 2017 the loss from ad fraud was only $3.9 billion

These losses account for a considerable percentage of the digital advertising budget. And with the statistics revealed by WARC showing that in comparison with almost $560 billion spent on digital advertising globally in 2018, the rise is expected by at least 13% by 2022. As a result of the budget growth, the industry is becoming even more attractive for fraudsters. Thus, affiliate marketers fear more sophisticated fraudulent methods to appear. And as a consequence affiliate marketers begin to draw massive attention to the affiliate fraud issue and look for the most trustworthy referral marketing platforms in combating fraud.

What can affiliate managers do to prevent fraud?

You can’t avoid fraud while doing business online. Hence, to succeed in this business, you need to take measures that would protect your business and clients against fraudsters. First and foremost, it implies understanding the nature of fraud in affiliate marketing and developing strategies to combat it.

The approach is similar to the general rules of internet security that all users should follow unless they want to risk their data. The same applies to managers of affiliate programs: to ensure a reliable platform with high-quality and fraudless traffic, you must regularly undertake precaution routine actions.

There are some best practices that you should follow:

Careful validation of new affiliates

It’s always easier to prevent any possible losses rather than to clean up afterward. Thus, be careful with adding new affiliates. It might be time-consuming to check each individual, but it’s worth to be prioritized. As at this point you can avoid any loss in the future. Check their websites, brand alignment with your program, relevant content profiles in social media and different portals. If you observe some discrepancy, it’s an early clue.

Checking and analyzing the data

Data can tell you a lot. Monitor the performance of ad campaigns for unusual changes; it can’t skyrocket out of nowhere. The following tips can help you to avoid affiliate fraud.

  • Monitor information from referring sites and referring URLs

Valid URLs indicates the credibility of affiliate sites. In the same way, referring URLs can give out the suspicious sites and direct affiliate managers to check the websites’ validity.

  • Track IP addresses

Multiple transactions received from the same IP address should arouse suspicions and immediate verification measures.

  • Pay attention to sub-affiliate networks

A critical moment, and also the one which you have less control of, as networks might instantly add hundreds of affiliates without carefully checking their validity.

  • Keep an eye on metrics growth

Devote more time revising metrics that require human involvement, such as inquiries, conversions or purchases. If you observe sudden traffic surges and quick increases in affiliate-referred transactions. If there is some, then fraud is likely to have occurred, and you need to interfere.

Affiliate tracking software can be quite helpful while combating fraud. These tools are usually equipped with features designed to prevent affiliate fraud.

Timely actions against fraud

Primarily, to avoid being trapped in a loophole, make sure that you are fully legally compliant. Constantly revisit and update the program terms and conditions. Next thing, don’t hesitate to act upon affiliate fraud in any form. Take any measure that you considered appropriate for every particular case: from sending violation warnings to affiliates to terminating them from the program.

These are the must-follow recommendations. However, even they cannot guarantee absolute protection from affiliate fraud. Occasionally you can recognize and block suspicious affiliates, but when it comes to fraud, it’s difficult to always be on the lookout. The chance that you would miss something is relatively high. By doing the actions described above, you only minimize fraud risks but do not eliminate it.

Fraudsters are very sophisticated in developing robust fraud strategies. Once one of their strategies is recognized and combated, they will come up with a new scheme to bypass your protection safety measures.

To ensure full protection, you had better choose professional help – fraud protection tool. Fraud-combating tools are developed to ease the process of analyzing your reports and activity logs enough time in advance to prevent any possible fraud. It will provide you with a real-time report on sudden traffic surges, rapid growth in specific affiliate referred sales or leads and any suspicious activities.

At tracking platforms, you can usually find features responsible for fraud prevention, such as:

-Click-level fraud prevention – a tool that reduces fraudulent traffic by filtering VPN, non-earmarked traffic from proxies, bot traffic etc.

-CR automation. In fraud prevention function, the CR automation feature serves as a regulator of the basic traffic quality index. Low CR percentage implies low-quality traffic, while a high CR percentage indicates the presence of fraud traffic. By following the CR percentage, you immediately decline the traffic that doesn’t fall under the advertiser settings.

-Rejection of IP duplicates. Conversions with duplicate IPs are a clear sign that you deal with low quality or fraudulent traffic. By choosing “Unique IP only” during an offer set-up phase, ensure that only conversions with unique IP will be approved.

-Detailed statistics. The importance of tracking platform that provides detailed statistics is pretty clear. But besides its primary aim, it also helps to define fraudulent patterns in conversions and block them. For example, when analyzing a campaign performance you notice that a browser language is different from the country of conversion; or there are suspiciously many impressions and no conversions at all. With a number of data-slices, it is easy to spot these signals and block fraudsters.

-Click to conversion time report. For every conversion type, there is a specified time span during which a majority of clicks and installs occur. High volumes of traffic beyond this time frame usually account for affiliate fraud. СTСT report is used to detect and prevent it, particularly mobile ad fraud such as click injection and click spamming.  

Those were the examples based on the functionality of Affise affiliate marketing platform, but fraud prevention features could vary at different platforms. Besides features available on the platforms, there are two more common options. You can develop your in-house tool to fight affiliate fraud or to resort to already made platforms. Both options come with a set of advantages and peculiarities.

There is a widespread opinion that in-house solutions are always better as they are developed for specific business needs. Further users believe that they are safer when it comes to data privacy. However, at the same time, it’s also common knowledge that it is significantly more costly and its development takes much more time, while there are decent options already available at the market. Want to dive into a comprehensive comparison between in-house and SaaS fraud prevention solutions? Have a profound look into the pros and cons of both types in the eBook “Performance Marketing Fraud”.

In the eBook, you will find a thorough examination of both options according to the different criteria: maintenance, staffing, competencies, and intelligence, agility, integrations and customization, data privacy, the accuracy of fraud prevention and price. After reviewing it, you will be able to understand what suits you the most.

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Affise Academy

Affise is a partner marketing platform for brands, advertisers and agencies to scale via all possible performance marketing channels. Synergy of technology and our long standing experience lets you expand your partnerships, automate every step of the campaign lifecycle and make data-driven decisions.

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