Insider’s Guide on Ad Fraud Detection Tools: Can They Protect Your Traffic?

May 7, 2020by Tammy0

Ad fraud detection companies closely collaborate with ad tech businesses and this trend is not new. Investing their money in ad campaigns, advertisers expect that they will receive only human traffic. Theoretically, the ads should be shown only to the target users — people that can potentially become buyers of the promoted product or service. In reality, everything is a little different and some of the impressions that advertisers track in their analytics systems can be generated by bots or malicious programs.

Ad fraud detection techniques and scanners are designed to fix this issue and stop it from happening on both supply and demand-sides. Let us explore the landscape of contemporary ad fraud detection tools and understand how they work, how to integrate them, and what’s a difference between post-bid and pre-bid scanning.

Ad fraud detection techniques vs. 7 types of fraud

To start off with, ad fraud techniques may also be different but the main idea behind them is to generate fake clicks, impressions, or any sort of conversion. For comparison, last year it accounted only for 44 million.

So, how can fraudsters gain from it? Some SSPs aggregate traffic from individual publishers, and ad networks to maximize traffic volumes. In such circumstances, it becomes hard to keep an eye on all traffic partners, let alone individual publishers each of which gets payment per action performed on their site. There’s always a chance that some players will try to conquer rules resorting to the following types of frauds:

The ad server receives false information about where the ad runs. Indeed, the impression takes place at cheaper inventory.
Bots – the most common type that uses internet scripts to generate click fraud, fake video opinions, impressions.
Pixel stuffing – when the ad gets placed into one pixel.
Ad stacking – a program adds a layer on top of the website or in addition to the ad unit.
Click farms – clicks are performed by low-paid employees to increase CTR.
Ad injection – browser extensions that illegally put ads on the publisher’s website.
So as to get rid of all these malicious schemes, ad fraud detection businesses develop working online ad fraud detection techniques and scanners that today can be integrated into any kind of ad platform.

How online advertising industry struggles back

According to another source, (ANA) the estimated global financial harm from fraud in 2019 attained $5.8 billion. In this case, the authors of the study for the first time recorded a downward trend and stated that the struggle against fraudulent schemes is yielding results. In two years, the share of fake display ad impressions has decreased from 9% to 8%, in video ads – from 22% to 14%.

It happened after the broad introduction of ad fraud detection technology like Forensiq, Pixalate, TMT, IAS, etc. DSPs and SSPs learned how to filter out suspicious traffic prior to the bid even takes place. Thus, now customers can trust their programmatic budgets to platforms with early fraud detection systems that were developed only a few years ago. Additionally, in order to eliminate ad fraud, cybersecurity professionals recommend adhering to the following practices:

Work with technology providers which use ads.txt, ads.cert, app-ads.txt, TAG Certification, sellers.json, along with other traffic and seller confirmation criteria (SmartyAds has them set up ).

Work with SSPs who are ready to support transparency initiatives and implement IAB standards for their publishers.
Avoid working with SSPs which sell undisclosed incentivized inventory.
Scan traffic on your system with scanners that work 24/7.
Make sure that you have pre-approval procedures for inventory and creatives.
Always keep your eye on fraud reports: generate them each week or every day to stay sure traffic in your marketplace is 100% legitimate.
Apply blacklists for certain publishers in case post-bid scanner detects fraud on their side.
Features and characteristics of the modern ad fraud detection tool

A good ad fraud detection tool can significantly reduce ad fraud by automatically banning suspicious impressions and bots at the stage of bidding or prior. Such fraud prevention tools can be installed on both supply and demand-side to achieve a synergy of action.

Pre-bid scanners identify fraud before the ad is served in the stage of request. Pre-bid scanning tools to monitor and sort out requests before bidding, that is why their cost can be slightly higher. However, pre-bid scanners filter out invalid traffic before it is counted as an impression which makes such ad fraud detection tools the most reliable.

The post-bid scanners give advertisers a chance to investigate where’s a fraud source is in the stage of response. The tracking tags contained in creatives make it easy to understand which domain names or creatives are fraudulent or compromise brand security.

Such scanners work in real time and detect pre-bid or post-bid suspicious activities, some tools can do both. But this logic of fraudulent activity detection is inherent only to a specific type of scanners. Indeed, online ad fraud detection techniques are highly diversified.

Ad fraud detection platform: principles and types of work

Ad fraud detection businesses create utilities, nonstop scanners, and whole software platforms to protect the advertising ecosystem from scammers. Let’s review the most popular of these.

Pixalate uses big data analysis to identify characteristic indications of online advertising fraud. Thanks to machine learning technologies, the scanner interprets the new fraudulent procedures and defines especially sophisticated schemes applying pre-bid and post-bid scanning techniques we discussed above. Their technologies work across display, in-app, video, and OTT/CTV environments.

Pixalate is a supply scanner, supported by SmartHub and utilizes img pixels and all sorts of macroses for traffic scanning (which platform owners can choose for themselves).

Scanner from Protected Media is also based on smart AI and ML technologies for fraud detection and both pre-bid and post-bid scanning. Pre-bid prevents fraud from happening before the impression happens and post-bid provides insights into specific ad fraud sources. The scanner works for Connected TV, Display and Video advertising.

Protected Media is a supply scanner but on SmartHub it empowers platform owners to scan traffic on SSP endpoints before DSPs reach it. You may easily avoid bad traffic with pre-bid and track it with post-bid functionality. Since we have an active partnership with Protected Media in place, you don’t have to negotiate integration with this ad fraud detection provider directly. Just make a request and in 7 days you’ll have the ability to turn pre and post-bid scanners in your system using SmartyAds credentials.

It assesses every impression based on the proprietary fraud score metric, assesses potential viability, and brand security score of the traffic source. The solution gives a full-funnel invalid traffic detection (SIVT & GIVT licensed ) across various traffic channels and effectively protect inventory from bad actors.

You can turn it on in the dashboard, configure in accordance with your needs, and generate regular reports to see how it deals with your traffic dangers.

It offers malware prevention, media filters for integration, malware attack data, creative and website quality assurance, clients hack prevention, electronic insights on fraud occurrence. TMT closely collaborates with IAB and the world’s largest media owners.

TMT scanner can also function on your SmartHub but in order to turn it on for your system, you want to negotiate prior installation. Following this, you’ll be able to turn it on and set up the daily limits of scans (see the screen above).


The IAS scanners (stand for Integral Ad Science) are also featured one of best ad fraud detection companies for advertisers and publishers alike. This company provides solutions that are accredited by MRC for SIVT (Sophisticated Invalid Traffic) detection. The 3 stages of traffic confirmation they use: network scanning, behavioral patterns detection on devices, and malware check will operate across all traffic channels.

White Ops is a cybersecurity company, their solutions protect publishers and advertisers from the majority of threats related to ad fraud. White Ops is one of the biggest companies that’s in charge of protecting traffic of Oath and Adobe and other major ad tech players because 2012. Their solutions are MRC licensed and may be used by advertisers and publishers who want to eliminate invalid inventory across environments (desktop and mobile) and verticals (especially in travel, retail and financial ones).

Making sure that your SmartHub is brand-safe and secure

We want to remind our customers that we collaborate with the world’s best ad fraud detection companies and regularly partner up with the new ones to outsmart even the most sophisticated fraudulent schemes. Advanced cybersecurity scanners that we provide to you are concentrated on both fraud prevention (pre-bid scanning) and detection (post-bid). Moreover, we provide API key’s implementation so that you could integrate any scanner of your choice and keep your traffic safe and protected. If you will need an individual implementation of any scanner, please be sure to notify us about your needs.

The last word

Ad fraud detection tools will not cease to develop as long as advertising space is plagued with bot traffic, ad click fraud, and lake views. Taken the fact that programmatic actively expands into the new environments, e.g OTT/CTV or audio, in the future, the variety of ad fraud schemes will only grow. The earlier ad tech suppliers realize the actual state of things, the better trading environment they’ll have the ability to create for their advertisers and publishers and the higher incomes they will have the ability to generate in the end.

by Tammy

I am Tammy from AdopX - Programmatic Advertising Solutions. We are Google's Ad Exchange/Adsense Partner and work with many top ad networks worldwide : Pubmatic, Appnexus, Criteo, Index Exchange, Rubicon Project, DistrictM.

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