Proxies for ad verification
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Iveta Vistorskyte

Mar 01, 2021 7 min read

With ad fraud becoming more common, ad verification has rapidly become one of the advertisers’ most critical priorities. Costs related to digital advertising fraud worldwide are predicted to grow exponentially within the four years between 2018 and 2022, from 19 billion to 44 billion U.S. dollars. 

Ad fraud is growing, so there is a need to protect the investment. This is where ad verification practices come in. This article explains what ad verification is and how proxies are involved in this process.

The most common methods of ad fraud

Before we dig deeper into ad verification, it is important to discuss various types of ad fraud. We listed the most common ones to understand how harmful ad fraud can be and why searching for a solution to fight malicious entities is necessary.

Click fraud

This is one of the most common ad fraud methods. Click fraud can be done manually or, more commonly, using automated bots. It is a malicious act of generating fake clicks on pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Click fraud is usually done on a large scale – ad fraudsters target multiple ads. According to statistics gathered by fraud protection platform PPC Protect, 11% of all search clicks are fraudulent. 

Click fraud is a severe issue for advertisers because it increases site revenue, lowers conversion rates, and exhausts the advertising budget.

Click fraud is a severe issue for advertisers
Click fraud is a severe issue for advertisers

Ad injection

Malicious entities seek out existing, legitimate ad spaces on webpages and replace or overlay original ads without any permissions. Ad fraudsters even place ads on websites that do not usually show ads at all. 

For advertisers, it means that unwanted ads can take their purchased ad spaces due to ad injection. What is worse, they would have no idea if their purchased ads are running or not.

Invisible and hidden ads

This ad fraud type is hard to detect because the original ads are not visible to the human eye, but impressions are still counted. Ad fraudsters have a few techniques to hide or make ads invisible. 

  • Pixel stuffing. The ads of standard dimensions are compressed into a tiny 1×1 pixel frame. 
  • Ad stacking. Multiple ads are layered on top of each other in a single ad placement, meaning that only one advertisement is seen by the website’s visitors. 
  • Malicious entities can also display ads outside of the website’s viewport area.

There are more ad fraud techniques, such as domain spoofing, cookie stuffing, etc. Dealing with ad fraud is challenging, and the main problem is that malicious entities keep creating more sinister versions of ad fraud. However, ad verification helps advertisers save their advertising budgets and generate quality traffic to their websites.

Ad fraud corrupts ads statistics
Ad fraud corrupts ads statistics

What is ad verification?

Ad verification is a broad term that includes actions ensuring that ads are displayed on the right websites, in the proper context, and reach their target audience. Publishers also benefit from ad verification because it helps minimize ‎the risk of running fraudulent ads on their sites.

Advertisers usually use ad verification services to ensure that specific ad attributes match the terms laid out in the ad campaign settings. These can include location, content, or site parameters. Verification tags added inside the ad markup allow collecting data about the content on the publisher’s site. This information will enable advertisers to ensure the page is suitable for the ad. Collected data is reported back to the advertiser or ad verification company, where analysts then work to analyze data about advertisement’s performance, placement, etc.

Ad verification vendors have various different ways to track down and prevent ad manipulation. It is a continuous battle between ad verification companies and ad fraudsters. Because everything is evolving and changing, ad verification companies need to develop sophisticated solutions to outsmart malicious entities. This is where proxies come into this cat-and-mouse game.

Ad verification companies have different ways to prevent ad fraud
Ad verification companies have different ways to prevent ad fraud

Proxies for ad verification

The key to fighting ad fraud is to use technologies that simulate a real user. If ad fraudsters suspect that ad verification companies are doing their job, they regularly fight back by simply blocking IP addresses. With residential proxies, ad verification vendors can help their clients spot the obstacles that keep ads away from the intended audience. Malicious entities will never know they are being watched.

Why are residential proxies suitable for ad verification?

You may know that there are various types of proxies. The most common types are datacenter and residential proxies. Datacenter proxies are widely used in multiple fields, but ad verification companies choose to work with residential IPs. The answer to why residential proxies are a better choice for ad verification lies in their origin.

Residential proxies are provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), so they have real IP addresses. The use of residential proxies in ad verification makes it impossible for ad fraudsters to detect ad verification companies that are verifying ads.

Datacenter proxies originate from secondary corporations like data centers. They are not affiliated with ISPs, meaning that their IP addresses do not come from real users. Even if datacenter proxies operate extremely fast and have high uptime, they are easily detectable. This is their most significant disadvantage for ad verification, meaning that residential proxies are the best choice for this process.

Residential proxies are the best choice for ad verification
Residential proxies are the best choice for ad verification

Main ad verification challenges

There is no doubt that ad verification has many challenges. Residential proxies help overcome a few of them and improve the whole ad verification process.

  • IP blocks. If an IP address is blocked, the ad verification process is obstructed and cannot proceed smoothly. Thanks to residential proxies, it is almost impossible for ad fraudsters to detect ad verification companies and block their IP addresses.   
  • Restricted geo-locations. Without proxies, a regular user or ad verification company from a particular country will see only their country’s ads.  Ad verification companies need to have access to any ad regardless of its geo-location. Choosing a reliable residential proxy provider with residential IPs all over the world will help solve this issue. 
  • Ensuring anonymity. Anonymity is key to a smooth ad verification process. Trustworthy proxy providers ensure 100% anonymity of their residential proxies.

Wrapping it up

Malicious entities are constantly developing new techniques to do as much damage as possible to successful businesses and, of course, to get the most out of it for themselves. One of the most vulnerable chains in online companies is digital advertising. Ad fraudsters have techniques to manipulate ads, drain advertisers’ budgets, generate fake traffic, and corrupt ads statistics. However, with the help of residential proxies, ad verification may be one of the best solutions to deal with ad fraudsters.

If you are interested in more information about residential proxies’ use cases, we suggest you read about web scraping project ideas, or an article about proxies for cybersecurity solutions.

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About Iveta Vistorskyte

Iveta Vistorskyte is a Content Manager at Oxylabs. Growing up as a writer and a challenge seeker, she decided to welcome herself to the tech-side, and instantly became interested in this field. When she is not at work, you'll probably find her just chillin' while listening to her favorite music or playing board games with friends.

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