How Travel Marketers Can Protect Themselves from Digital Ad Fraud

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
feature blog graphic Sponsored by Arrivalist


For more information on this topic, join Arrivalist for their webinar on Thursday, February 21, 2:00 p.m. ET.

Usually, humans visit websites—when the pages load, the ads load. But with more programmatic technology automating the buying and selling of digital ads, the bad guys are automating fraud.

“Bots” are used to repeatedly load webpages to create more ad impressions, which they sell to advertisers. Since the advertiser is not getting anything in return for these impressions, this phenomenon is fraudulent. In mobile platforms, bots can impersonate a certain geolocation to attract higher dollars for each ad impression. For marketers, this means more ad dollars going to waste. Furthermore, analytics are being corrupted by fake data—fake traffic, fake impressions, fake clicks, et cetera. When organizations optimize marketing campaigns based on this bad data, they may accidentally send even more ad dollars to these fraudulent “bots.”

Destination marketers are at a risk of ad fraud due to budgets being shifted into digital from more traditional channels. Branding and awareness campaigns often have reach and frequency goals, and when marketers want to reach larger audiences online, hackers can manufacture audiences and ad inventory to take advantage of those ad budgets. Additionally, the click through rates that many marketers use to gauge performance are easily manipulated. The bots will generate more clicks on websites that carry fake ads, so marketers are tricked into spending more, thinking there is higher engagement.

So how do destination marketers protect themselves from getting ripped off by bots and ad fraud?

The short answer is to pick reliable conversion metrics to judge the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns. These types of metrics are usually immune to manipulation by bots. Any quantity metric is vulnerable, but arrivals in a physical, offline location is a metric that is not easily gamed. Therefore, this is a more reliable metric to use when measuring digital campaigns.

According to Arrivalist, an “arrival” of a person in a city, state or point-of-interest (POI) is measured by triangulating anonymous data about the locations of mobile phones. Note that it is the entire marketing mix that drives an increase in arrival rate, rather than one tactic versus another. Marketers can use an increase in arrival rate to identify which elements of their marketing mix drove the greatest lift, and thus increase investment in those elements. For destination marketers, this metric drives higher business outcomes, as more tourists and longer stays translate directly into greater revenue.

By relying on arrivals as a conversion metric for digital marketing campaigns, destination marketers can reduce their own risk of exposure to the ill effects of bots and ad fraud.


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