Why White Wednesday and Black Friday is a fraudsters’ Christmas come early, by mfilterit Debsena Chakraborty

By Debsena Chakraborty, General Manager, MENA, mfilterit.

If I told you that online ad fraud increases by 117% during October and November, would you believe me? With the festive spending season and major marketing events such as White Wednesday and Black Friday just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to understand the powerful ways of the workings of the ad fraudster so that you can protect your customer, your brand’s reputation, and your budget.

It is predicted that 80% of online shoppers in the UAE will shop on Black Friday, which is a 30% increase from last year, making it the biggest online shopping day in history. It is no surprise that this spike in online spending added to higher ad spend by brands with as much as 40-50% of Q4 budgets allocated to Black Friday campaigns. With ad fraud threats to businesses has risen by 46% since the beginning of the pandemic, seasonal ad fraud has never been so prevalent.

Debsena Chakraborty

Never has the online purchasing market been more cut-throat, with Covid-19 driving more UAE consumers online than ever before. With the need to grab customers attention in a swamped online market, your ad-spend budget has never been more valuable. Understanding the key ways that ad-fraudsters work over this period will help you protect your budget and your customer and deliver actual results. 

Wasted Ad spend

When you see a significant number of clicks on your advert but with little-to-no conversions, this is due to fraudsters redirecting or click spamming in order to spoof the analytics, which leaves you wondering, what happened?

In one such scenario a UAE based fintech app witnessed 9 billion clicks accounting for app installs. The company was paying out on real account opening post verification, which doesn’t really add up when the UAE’s population is less than 10 million.

Beware of Fake Events

During these promotional periods when prices are slashed to drive sales, it attracts fraudsters who post fake adverts whilst posing as trusted brands, which means that consumers never receive the goods they have ordered but have actually shared their personal information including card details with the fraudsters. This not only affects the consumer but affects the reputation and goodwill of a brand. Studies have indicated that exposure to fraud during the Q4 is 17% higher than the rest of the year.

Affiliate Fraud and Competition Bidding Fraud

Ensuring compliance on your brand keywords on Search is extremely critical, especially during the festive season. When affiliates start bidding on your brand keywords and take your user back to the original website, you end up paying for your own users via your affiliates.

Excessive bidding on major platforms drives ad prices through the roof, meaning that the incentive for bot traffic around this time of year is really high. Fraudsters have even more leverage to steal from your customer base because the traffic is high, and platforms don’t take the time to monitor bot traffic. Ultimately, everyone makes money off the advertiser, at the cost of the advertiser.

Messed up Analytics

Data is the new oil. Decision-makers rely on data to drive their strategic decisions. But what if the data is spoofed and you do not know what’s working and what’s not?

Ad fraud ruins the purity of the analytics: skewed data means that the right decisions cannot be taken to drive sales and make the most out of the Black Friday campaigns.  Fraudsters’ actions of pixel stuffing will signify high impressions but low click-throughs. As a result, you could conclude that the ad is not targeted or well designed and therefore need to rethink a campaign, which otherwise would have worked perfectly. Skewed campaign statistics result in bad strategy management resulting is negative sales or diminished ROI.

Each year, the market sees sales practically double around White Wednesday and Black Friday and it is no surprise that the exponential rise in digital ad spending fuels the rise in ad fraud during the holiday season. Be sure to safeguard your campaigns from fraudulent elements this holiday season and make the most of your bottom line and also increase your ROAS.