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Click Redirection

What is Click Redirection?

Ever clicked on an online ad or link with the intention of visiting a specific website, but instead you were redirected to another website?

This is called click redirection.

It is a type of ad fraud that is carried out by spammers to sabotage your affiliate advertising efforts. Additionally, click redirect ads cause financial drain for all parties involved including the ad publisher, affiliate advertiser, and the ad network.

Advertisers lose finances as their ads do not land where they were originally intended to.

Users and advertisers lose trust in the ad publisher which causes loss of clients and income.

To put it simply, forced redirect ads ruin advertising efforts and credibility of affiliate advertisers and publishers,  while costing them a lot of money.

How Does it Work?

The click redirect fraud consists of a number of steps:

  • When a user is interested in an ad on a website, they click on it for further details about the product or service.
  • With auto redirect ads, there is a malicious script hidden that redirects the user to a different page. The spammer may also use bots to increase clicks so that it looks like more users are interested in the ad.
  • The page that the user is redirected to is not the one which the user intended to visit. It can be a malicious site, another ad or a different offer from another advertiser.
  • This results in loss of the advertisers’ budget since the clicks on their ad did not turn into conversions. It also spoils the users’ experience.
  • Some fraudsters hide their fraud by showing the intended landing page for a brief moment before redirecting to the malicious site. This makes it confusing for the user and is difficult to detect.

Click Redirection: Mechanisms-

Click redirection can be carried out in a number of ways:

  • Phishing-

A spammer can play many tricks in order to make a user click on ads or links. These ads may be disguised as a prompt or button that may seem legitimate to the user’s untrained eye. Once clicked on, these links redirect to a different page which may be a different ad or even a malicious site.

  • Code Injection-

A malicious script can be added to any ad. When users click on this ad, they are redirected to another website. This method is carried out by spammers on websites with weaker security ad servers.

  • Software Vulnerability-

A device with outdated software can be an easy target for spammers. Redirection can be triggered as soon as a user with such device visits a website rigged with malicious ads.

A fraudster may have a number of reasons to carry out this fraud including financial gain, to harm competitor reputation and profits, to steal users’ personal information, to spread malware, etc.

Whatever the reason, protecting your ads from falling prey to fraud is the ultimate goal.

How Does Click Redirection Affect Publishers?

It is apparent that click redirect affects affiliate advertisers negatively, but it can also prove problematic for publishers.

  • Reputation Damage-

For publishers, to attract business, their reputation is really important.

So if redirection is common on ads published on your platform, your reputation as a publisher is at risk.

Affiliate advertisers do not want their ads to be published on sites with prevalent click frauds which is why they prefer to avoid such platforms and publishers altogether.

  • Ad Budget Drain-

With redirection, the number of clicks on a specific ad inflates exponentially.

Excessive clicks drain advertisers’ budgets since each fake click counts and has to be paid for, yet it does not bring any value to the advertiser.

This results in a campaign that does not work and both the advertiser and publisher are left with lost effort and no results.

  • Reduced Advertiser Satisfaction-

No advertiser will be happy with the performance of a publisher when their ads keep getting redirected.

Ads are supposed to reach a target audience base and to bring in impressions from genuine users, however with redirected clicks this goal is almost impossible to achieve.

Both advertisers and marketers will avoid collaborating with a publisher that repeatedly falls prey to redirection fraud resulting in loss of revenue.

How to Protect Yourself Against Forced Redirect Ads?

Auto redirect ads can harm your affiliate campaign drastically, however there are ways to safeguard your ads.

  • Analytics tools that help you understand whether the user interaction on your ads and website are legitimate or not go a long way. Understanding user behavior and trends can help decipher bots from real users and can help recognize fraudulent activities in the potential stages. For instance, if you see a sudden spike in clicks or impressions it might be a cause for inspection.
  • Conduct in depth research before collaborating with any publisher or platform. Reputation is an important factor to consider. Make sure you work only with the reputed publishers that have a history of offering quality clicks to advertisers. Always adhere to ethical advertising practices.
  • Regular checks and monitoring are also a crucial factor in ensuring that your ads are not falling prey to any fraudulent activity. Keep a close eye on any unusual user behavior as this may be an indication of a rigged ad campaign. Track metrics like CTR, conversion rates, and bounce rates for any strange patterns.
  • Implement anti-fraud tools. With the continuous evolution of technology you now have access to best-in-industry fraud protection tools. These tools are a godsend when it comes to detecting and preventing fraud.

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