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Leveraging affiliate marketing? Here’s the hidden ad fraud risk and how to avoid it

by Kalen Bushe

February 27, 2023

Affiliate marketing has become a popular marketing strategy for brands, with 80% of brands practicing it today. Its expected growth from $13bn in 2022 to $15.7bn by 2024 and $36.9bn market by 2030 indicates its effectiveness in generating leads and boosting sales for businesses.

It works by allowing third-party publishers to earn a commission for promoting the products or services of others. However, its success also makes it an attractive target for fraudsters, who employ various tactics that can be detrimental to brands beyond the bottom line. Marketers need to make ad fraud prevention a business priority, and brands need to have effective systems in place to evaluate affiliates, set clear expectations and guidelines and invest in sophisticated ad fraud protection and optimization tools to safeguard their platforms.

Fraudsters have tried and tested various ways to cash in on affiliate programs, such as cookie stuffing, click fraud, and fake purchases. As technology evolves to implement more sophisticated methods for affiliate marketing, fraudsters are upgrading their capabilities and finding new ways to hack into seemingly well-protected systems. With bots crawling the web and headless browsers that can do sophisticated tasks previously done by humans, it can be difficult to detect fraud as there are fewer humans involved in the process. As more brands build an online presence post-pandemic, they become easy targets for experienced scammers looking for their next victim.

Safeguarding your brand from ad fraud

The effects of affiliate marketing fraud can go beyond lost revenue and budgets. Having a brand's products appear alongside offensive or illegal content is one-way brand reputation can be harmed. Every time a brand opens itself to affiliate marketing, it takes a brand risk that goes beyond a single campaign.

Brands need to prioritize ad fraud prevention and invest in sophisticated ad fraud protection and optimization tools to safeguard their platform. To prevent fraud, brands must have an effective system to evaluate affiliates. Setting up proper channels and guidelines for potential affiliates may seem daunting, but it's crucial to weed out unethical behavior from the start. With clear compliance policies, potential scammers will have fewer loopholes to exploit.

On the tech side, cloaking affiliate links with shortened URLs can ease tracking and protect affiliates at the same time by concealing their unique affiliate identity. Additionally, monitoring the IP addresses of affiliates from time to time can ensure they are not involved in any suspicious activity. Staying on top of the latest updates is also necessary to ensure that brands can continue to implement the right tools to safeguard their platform.

It is essential to stay on top of the latest updates and have partnerships with experts in the field to support the growing affiliate program. By doing so, brands can ensure that fraudulent conversions are identified at the first click and that they are building a trusted marketing ecosystem.

Build effective partnerships

It can be challenging for brands to monitor the constantly evolving technological landscape and a growing affiliate program amidst other day-to-day tasks and challenges. Having the right partnerships with experts in the field can provide support in this regard. Researching and investing in sophisticated ad fraud protection and optimization tools that can give a multi-point prevention strategy across the ad journey, from impression to click and conversion, is necessary.

By implementing cutting-edge solutions, brands can effectively detect and prevent fraudulent conversions from occurring right from the outset, thereby safeguarding their advertising budgets and, more importantly, upholding the integrity of their brand. This approach not only shields businesses from potential losses but also fosters a culture of trust within the affiliate community, thereby building a robust and reliable marketing ecosystem that engenders long-term success.


Digital Marketing
Affiliate Marketing
ad fraud