How To Prevent Dealership Digital Ad Fraud in 2020

By: Bobby Fikree and Michael Cirillo   |   10 Apr 2020

Did you know that your ads are out-spending your hard-earned dollars on BOTS late at night?

Yup... it's true.

We originally published this blog back on October 30, 2017 but have found it to be an even more timely message today. Digital advertising, in many regards is what has helped many dealreships remain connected to their target shoppers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we maintain that running relevant and timely ads are important even if you have to decrease your overall budget, it would be a shame if you were losing money due to bots or unsavoury websites late at night.

As the marketing technologist at Flexdealer I spend most of my time ensuring your ads show up in front of people who want to see them. A key part of this is ensuring that the ads show up when people are searching for content that is relevant to your brand.

My responsibility is to ensure that your ads show up on properties that are consistent with your brand's values.

It's about time the digital marketing world came clean.

Until recently nobody in the industry had any idea which specific properties were showing your ads or who was viewing them. We had educated estimates but that’s about it.

Surely Google and Facebook Knew?

Google and Facebook (apparently) didn't.

Because of not knowing this information approximately 250 advertisers boycotted YouTube and AdSense. The list included big-spending marketers such as PepsiCo, Wal-Mart Stores, Starbucks, AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, and Volkswagen.

While advertisers haven’t boycotted Facebook’s platform in the same numbers many brands have taken action after seeing their content showing up on the alt-right website Breitbart. Despite blacklisting the site many companies found their ads showing up on the site. The twitter account Sleeping Giant notifies companies as their ads show up on the page.

It's unclear how many, if any, of those have returned to YouTube since Google promised to hire more human reviewers and upgrade its technology to keep ads away from repugnant videos.

Both Verizon and AT&T, two companies that are trying to expand their own digital ad networks to compete with Google, told The Associated Press that they are still boycotting YouTube. FX Networks confirmed that it isn't advertising on YouTube either.


How to protect against digital ad fraud

Our client’s ads have always been optimized to include interests and specific targeting to avoid (to the best of our ability) having our client’s ads show up on these websites.

By reducing the ‘programmatic’ element of our media buying and focusing on the interest and affinity based marketing we have increased engagement and consistently produced excellent in-store results.

Our client’s ads run during their optimal viewing times (i.e. no ads running from midnight to 7 AM)

Through our in-store/online hybrid approach we were able to determine that the majority of ‘useful’ clicks happened during times people were most likely to be awake. Between midnight to 7 AM the traffic was almost exclusively bot-based.

Disable ads for old versions of Chrome - Many of the Chrome browser versions with the highest fraud rates are no longer supported by Google

No surprises here. One of the best ways to reduce ad fraud is to no longer serve ads to browsers that aren’t in current rotation.

Disable Audience Network placements.

The most important step for our clients (one of the first things I implemented at Flexdealer) has been to disable audience network placements. In our experience these sites net low-quality clicks as it's not clear which property they came from and are a haven for bot-related traffic.