Ad Fraud Evolution: What to Expect?

Technological development has two sides: along with useful innovations, malicious software also arises. As such, with increased cybersecurity and advanced tools, we also receive high-tech bots that are harder to deal with. 

Which are the key principles of ad fraud development? What kind of logic stands behind it and what to expect in the near future? Our team has been tracking the ad fraud evolution for years, so we have some insights to share. Let’s discuss these and other disturbing questions. 

Logic behind ad fraud development 

To improve their nasty techniques and therefore — steal more money from your budget, cybercriminals strive to make bots behave like people. The better bots mimic human behavior, the harder it is to detect them. And, as you already know, timely detection is key to efficient fraud fighting. 

When you fail to identify bot traffic on time, you fall victim to fraud and lose your marketing budget. Still, spotting the issue is not an easy task, considering that criminals are more organized now. They actively use the latest technologies, including AI, machine learning, and different types of programmatic fraud. The latter includes malware and bot farms operated by human coordinators. 

During recent years, bots as well as the cybercrime community, have changed a lot. Take a look at this comparative table:

As you can see, the higher level of human coordination and more complicated fraud technologies made this type of digital crime more severe and harder to beat. Considering the fact that the digital world will continue developing, bots and their controllers will do the same, so there are no signs that the tendency will change.

Summing up 

The previous generation of bots was pretty predictable and had standard attack patterns. For instance, these were massive DDoS attacks from the same IP address easily resolved by blocking. Bots visited a website thousands of times, spent the same time on the page and performed the same simple actions. Primitive scripts controlled them, so such bots were impossible to confuse with people.  

Today, bots behave differently — they are not concentrated in data centers, but they “live” in user devices. They can steal cookies and mess up with them, learn how people usually behave online, and successfully do the same. 

They perform more complicated actions than before. Modern bots do more than watching the ads online, but also they can fill out the forms, register, add goods to carts, and even perform fake conversions. 

As for the fraud communities, today, they act like real companies that pay salaries to bots developers. According to HAL Open Science research, they pay BTC to developers for fraud campaigns creation, which usually involves a sophisticated combination of sending fake traffic through bots using fake social accounts and falsified cookies.

Also, they develop bots that click on the ads available on a scam page that is faking a famous brand. Thus, technical communities provide knowledge on existing techniques and their incremental developments.

In the meantime, the same research claims that ad fraud undertaken by criminals cost $42 billion in 2019 and could reach $100 billion by 2023.

How to save your marketing budget?

Evolved bots cannot be beaten by the old means. The previous techniques were focused on examining large chunks of traffic, which is no longer efficient. Modern anti-bot approaches should be precise and accurate, namely — marketers need deep checks of every interaction and device. To deal with fraud, it is crucial to analyze each user by numerous parameters, including VPN usage, location, browser type, behavior, etc. 

ADEX is capable of analyzing your traffic by 50 parameters to detect bots, block/redirect them, and keep your campaigns safe. Our platform has smart stats, tools, and filters so that you can analyze traffic by slices (like, GEO+device or browser+GEO) to make concrete conclusions about campaign performance. With Postbacks, you will receive real-time alerts about any suspicious activity and block unreliable traffic sources before bots can do harm to your budget. 

We constantly improve our tools and create new ones, so even though bots develop, we never stay still, as well. 

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