Why Marketers should check on their Clicks
Affiliate Marketing in theory is the easiest and safest form to pay for new Leads, Sales or Mobile App Installs. The focus is here on the word “theory” because the reality is very different and we will explain in this article why you should care about what traffic you are getting on a click level even when you pay per conversion or events.
The misconception of safety by paying per conversion
When talking to affiliate marketers they are often more interested in scanning conversions and not also clicks because they are only paying on a conversion basis. It is the belief that they can receive any type of traffic at a click level but as long as these do not turn into conversions there is not any harm done. Some Advertisers pay on Engagements with the idea that bots have a harder time to achieve these goals. Unfortunately this is not the case! The truth is that Click Fraud like Click Flooding or Bots generating fake Clicks is one of the most common Fraud types we see on Affiliate Campaigns.
Here are the 3 main categories of Fraud that will happen if you dont care about scanning Clicks.
1. Cookie Dropping in E-commerce
Cookie stuffing is a fraudulent activity whereby malicious actors use various techniques to drop fraudulent affiliate cookies onto users’ browsers. Due to the attribution window of typically 30 days this allows them to collect commissions on sales and other activities that are attributed to the fraudsters, while the legitimate publisher misses out on their rightful compensation.
The most common technique used by fraudsters is pop-ups, iframes or browser extensions.
2. Click Spamming in Mobile App Marketing
Since there are no Cookie in Mobile App Marketing that can be used Fraudsters are instead using a large number of Device IDs or Fingerprints to confuse the Mobile Attribution System to falsely attribute the conversion to them. We see all these tactics still in December 2022 being carried out across multiple MMPs, regardless if its iOS or Android.
Automatically opening tracking Links to the AppStore. For Android Campaigns they will send Device IDs and for iOS SKAD Fingerprints can be used instead. In both cases this tactic works by generating a large number of Clicks causing the conversions to be falsely attributed to the fraudster.
Click Farms – This has been a particular new fraud trend that many marketers dont see and is not possible to detect if you only look at conversions. The trick is to generate a massive amount of clicks (typically from servers like Alibaba Cloud) with real Device IDs or Fingerprints of actual users. This will then make MMPs believe that the install should be attributed to the fraudster. The interesting part here is that at conversion level the IP will appear completely normal and purchase activity etc. are also normal.
3. Disguised Incentivised Traffic
Fraudsters have been known to utilize fake clicks in an attempt to conceal incentivized traffic, which has a notorious high Conversion Rate. This can be achieved with the use of bots that insert false clicks into campaigns, manipulating statistics and thus lowering the reported conversion rate. Such actions become obvious when one notices large numbers of bots or duplicate IPs inside click data – suggesting a true conversion rate much lower than what is normally seen.
It is important for affiliate marketers to understand that it is not enough to simply focus on conversion checks when paying per conversion. By taking the time to scan clicks, affiliate marketers can protect themselves from fraudsters who use various techniques such as cookie stuffing and click spamming in order to divert commissions away from legitimate publishers. It is essential for affiliate marketers to be aware of these fraudulent activities.