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Ad Stacking Fraud

What is Ad Stacking?

Ad stacking fraud is a kind of impression fraud or click spam. It is one of the most common types of fraud that ails CPM and PPC campaigns which is why proper fraud protection must be the top priority of any marketer.

When more than one ad is stacked on top of one another, in a single ad placement, this practice is known as ad stacking. It is a type of fraud and a notorious one at that. 

The user is able to view only one ad, the one stacked on top, but as soon as they click on it the impression registered goes to each ad in the stack. This leads to fake clicks and impressions that the advertisers have to pay for. 

It is one of the most common forms of fraud in click-based campaigns and is known to drain resources, especially ad budgets, with no real results to show for.

The good news is that although prevalent, ad stacking is quite easy to detect. With the right guidance and information at hand, you can protect your affiliate marketing campaign from falling prey to this fraud.


How Does Ad Stacking Fraud Work?

There are numerous ways in which fraudsters execute ad stacking:

A fraudster may place numerous ads at zero opacity into a single ad unit. In this way, the user is only able to see one ad while the rest of the ads placed behind it are invisible to them. 

Sometimes a fraudulent publisher may use banner rotation to load invisible ads meaning that an invisible ad action will continuously keep happening behind a visible ad. 

As soon as an impression is counted for an ad it is replaced by another invisible ad and the cycle continues. Even though a user is never able to actually see these ads, since they are able to trigger an impression by loading the required pixel, advertisers are charged for the impression and have to pay.

In other words, when multiple ads are stacked or layered over one another, fraudulently, to charge the advertiser falsely with no actual impressions, the practice is known as ad stacking.


Why is it Important to Understand Ad Stacking?

Ad Stacking, like any other impression fraud, wastes markers’ ad spend. Additionally, it creates issues with the campaign data. 

Fake impressions result in poor ROAS as the budget allocated for your ads is drained and brings nothing in return. 

Clicks and impressions from fraudulent ad stacking also have a negative effect on your campaign data as a low conversion rate, even when impressions are high, may cause marketers to think that the creatives are not at par, even when that is not the case.


Protect Yourself:  Ad Stacking Prevention

Organizations continually keep falling prey to ad stacking fraud even though it is easy to detect and protect against. This is because it is one of the easiest ways to commit fraud and most brands/marketers are not equipped with the right tools and guidance to protect themselves. 

It is important to prioritize protection against frauds like ad stacking.

To make it easier for marketers, here is a list of ways that can help identify and protect yourself against ad stacking fraud:

  • Keep a close check on campaign conversion rates. If you are observing low conversion rates yet high impressions this can be an indication of ad stacking.
  • If you are running more than one ad campaign, keep a check on the backend functions. This will allow you to identify if there are multiple clicks from a single device with the same timestamp.
  • Keep up with the reports your platform vendor provides you with. Analyze the results of your campaign regularly.
  • Make sure your platform offers top-of-the-line, best-in-industry anti-fraud solutions for your campaign and ads. This helps nip ad stacking in the bud. Anti fraud tools detect fake traffic and clicks quickly. This helps you save your ad budget from going down the drain.
  • Implementing an anti-fraud solution is a great idea since it helps curb the need for time-staking manual traffic quality checks. An automated anti-fraud solution helps blacklist fraud device IDs, reveal fake user data, and therefore improves the overall performance of your campaign.


Best Practices to Follow

Affiliate managers and advertisers need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advertising best practices. 

Since the affiliate marketing industry is evolving quickly, ad stacking fraud is becoming more prevalent with each passing day, and this is turning out to be a major issue for marketers. 

While ad stacking might seem like a quick way to increase your revenue, it can harm the reputation of your business as stacking multiple ads in a single ad space is a fraudulent practice. 

To ensure that your affiliate marketing campaign succeeds in the long run with no repercussions make sure that your business follows industry best practices and does not indulge in fraudulent activities.

One of the thumb rules that any affiliate marketer or advertiser must follow, while running ads, is to prioritize quality over quantity. 

When it comes to ad placements, strategically place high quality ads on your website. This approach ensures that your ads bring in meaningful clicks and conversions.

Transparency, for any organization, is the key to maintaining a positive reputation in the industry. 

By being open with your affiliates about the number of ads and their placement, you save yourself from accidental stacking. 

Since affiliates are in the loop, they will refrain from placing ads on the same sites which in turn will safeguard you against stacking.

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