Deliver me from fraud, or 8 basic steps to save you from bad traffic in 2020

  1. Second, keep track of your best-performing traffic sources. A white list can save you where blacklists fail. Set transparent and hard-to fake KPIs. Do not hesitate to ask about additional/soft KPIs. If you think your CPA is the only thing you care about, think twice, or you might be buying your own organic users’ purchases from someone else (see 1.)
  2. Monitor your campaign activity or ask the traffic provider to do this. You don’t want your nice and neat private banking solution ad to be run on adult traffic even though you don’t pay for that in the end. You just don’t want that happening. Haste makes waste, so choose an agency that can auto-stop the weirdly performing creative even during the World Cup final.
  3. When testing a new publisher/agency, think of some non-performance-related targeting settings and change them. For example, you own an Android dating app and you are still growing your user base without earning from the app directly. Most likely, you don’t care about what devices your login with as long as the app doesn’t crash. Choosing random 100 device models (out of the 1000 most popular ones) every week would make it harder for a botnet to fake a specific list precisely.
  4. If, by any chance, you don’t have a direct money-related metric to base your KPIs upon, choose your affordable fraud level (=the amount of weird/badly performing traffic you can still pay for). Strange as it seems, this is perfectly reasonable if you need huge volumes. Whitelists, strict targeting, and well-weighed KPIs would definitely save you from many of the evils of the ad world, but, sadly, this often comes with your audience/reach shrinking to zero. When everyone seems to have your app installed and your executive board still wants growth, calculating and taking risks can be beneficial.
  5. Choose less complicated ecosystems and try to buy as directly as it is comfortable for you. The concept of RTB is awesome and some of its realizations are extremely good, but the more participants the chain has, the worse is the performance impact, both in tech and financial terms. Middlemen make your ads more expensive, endless “black boxes” and scripts your ads are run with make it hard to define the real placement/publisher.
  6. Use a third-party fraud prevention system. A problem shared is a problem halved (sadly, this is vice versa for your budget, but still worth it)

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