Home Digital Marketing What are the most common types of ad fraud?

What are the most common types of ad fraud?

ad fraud

Last Updated on February 26, 2024 by Nasir Hanif

Ad fraud is a growing concern for both advertisers and publishers. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says that ad fraud could cost the industry $20 billion in 2021. A report from IBM found that advertisers lost an estimated $7.2 billion in 2018 due to fraudulent traffic. So how do you know if your digital advertising campaign is getting ripped off? Here are five common types of ad fraud that can affect all parties if ad fraud detection isn’t employed:


Bots are software programs that mimic human behaviour and are often used for malicious purposes. Bots can be programmed to create fake traffic, fake pageviews and interactions on social media, or any other activity designed to simulate real people consuming content and engaging with brands.

Bots are challenging to detect because humans are not controlling them—they’re automated software programs running on a computer somewhere. This makes it almost impossible for an advertiser to identify a bot using traditional methods like cookie tracking or IP addresses.

Click spam

One of the most popular types of ad fraud is click spam. Click spam occurs when an ad on a web page is clicked by a user who didn’t want to click on it, either because they were unaware that they were clicking on the advertisement or because bots caused it. This can be prevented by ensuring that your ads are relevant to your site’s content rather than just placed there arbitrarily, making them less likely to be accidentally clicked by visitors.

Ad injectors

Ad injectors are ad fraud that takes over your ads and inserts their code. Ad injectors can be either malicious or legitimate, but in both cases, they obscure your ads to hide their existence, making it difficult to find and remove them.

Ad injectors primarily take over your ads by injecting Javascript into the HTML markup of your page’s source code (the hidden text that tells browsers how to display pages). Once injected, this code can perform various functions, such as displaying fake advertisements or redirecting users to malware sites as soon as they click on an ad.

To prevent ad injectors from damaging your site or brand, ensure you verify all third-party scripts before allowing them access to your domain. This means running each script through a scanner before using it on your site (and eventually safe listing those that pass) if any suspicious behaviour is found during ad fraud detection during this process—like redirection URLs ending with “.co” instead of “.com”—then block that script entirely until further testing can be done.

Invisible ads

Invisible ads are a type of ad fraud that can be detected by monitoring the number of impressions and clicks. Hidden ads load into a browser but never display. These ads are commonly used to generate fake images and clicks to create the belief that an advertiser’s campaign is more successful than it is.

Ad verification clarifies that an ad has been served and gives advertisers confidence about their campaign performance.

Ad stacking

It is a form of ad fraud where multiple ads are placed on top of one another to fill the space. This can be done by placing various ads on the same page or on top of each other in a single browser window. It’s often done by bot traffic, which can be detected by looking for multiple ads on the same page.

Fake domain spoofing

Domain spoofing is one of the most common types of ad fraud. It involves creating fake websites that look like real ones. These phoney domains can generate fake clicks and create false impressions since they’re indistinguishable from legitimate websites. This type of ad fraud is tough to detect because it relies on tricking people into clicking on ads rather than inserting malware or stealing user data, as other ads do.

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