Advertisers may be conditioned to scream “Fraud!” instead of “Bad Quality!” like the public was trained to yell “Fire!” instead of “Help!” when attempting to attract attention. Are advertisers crying wolf when it comes to fraud? Or, is the fraud simply bad traffic?
An advertiser’s fraud claim demands attention because chances are a liability has been created for the advertiser or the partner, or both. Whereas, an advertiser’s claim that the traffic is not backing out for them may command less of their partner’s attention. The former is an elephant and the latter is an ant.
As an advertiser, I have experienced first-hand a lack of partner response when I have communicated quality concerns, in my case new member quality for our loyalty program Memolink.com. Here’s how those conversations would unfold:
Me: Our click to conversion rate is quite low.
Partner: Maybe your landing page needs to be optimized.
Me: The return on investment and activity level of these new members is low.
Partner: It is only my responsibility to provide you the member; it’s up to you to monetize them.
At the time, had I known that using the “F” bomb would have been a powerful enough call to action, I may have just dropped it. In this example, the traffic I received was bad, but perhaps the new members I received came from a sub-publisher three levels away and the pattern of bad traffic was actually an indication of fraud. Could I have made changes and tested landing pages to improve conversions? Yes. Could I have spent more time monetizing the leads I was receiving? Yes. Could the traffic have been fraudulent? Yes. All I really wanted from my partner was a commitment to investigate, and I did not receive that.
On the flip side, the experience my organization has as an advertising network working with advertisers has provided me with a glimpse into a bigger issue. We do not share a common definition of fraud. The following is a snapshot of new clients that were on-boarded last week and the definition of fraud each of these clients provided:
Monday’s Fraud Definition: Duplicates
Tuesday’s Fraud Definition: Invalid credit card
Wednesday’s Fraud Definition: Cancellations on orders
Thursday’s Fraud Definition: Returns
Friday’s Fraud Definition: Numbers in names, etc.
It is important that we come together as an industry and collaborate on the real definition of fraud as it relates to what we do and the challenges we face. Each lead, sale, or transaction can be placed into one of three categories: Valid, Invalid or Fraud. Too often the invalid leads are being placed in the fraud category. The way to prevent and detect fraud is to first understand what fraud is.