4Affiliate marketing is one of the most important distribution channels for online services and retailers. However, this marketing tool is increasingly being targeted by fraudsters. But with the help of holistic campaign analysis software, analyzing the entire customer journey, some forms of fraud can be efficiently detected and prevented. Such a flexible software solution is, for instance, necessary to add the tracking raw data to other attributes, such as Affiliate IDs.

How users can expose fraudsters faster and save costs regarding the two most common forms of fraud, is shown by the following examples:

Brand bidding

Affiliates usually don’t have the right to book branded keywords, but nevertheless ‘search engine advertisement” (SEA) texts and URLs are often copied 1:1 by imposters and booked at maximum bids on search engines. With this so-called brand bidding, the affiliate secures a commission with each and every visitor clicks on the copied brand display, which is well above the paid price per click.

However, modern campaign analysis software allows detecting these violations. That way, affiliates can easily be identified, the sales channels used made transparent, and the sales can be traced back to the individual affiliate IDs. In this  way, the entire customer journey is revealed, so that the booked keywords can be quickly made visible and attributed to each affiliate. A useful side effect of this detailed analysis is the fact that in the long tail there are often effective keywords that advertisers can adopt.

Cookie dropping

Via iFrames or other manipulations, affiliates can set cookies and generate revenue with advertising clicks. These clicks, however, do not lead to a visit on the landing page, which means that no page impression (PI) on the advertiser page has been activated. So, if an affiliate generates many clicks but no PIs, there is probably fraudulent use. Many post-sales without direct visits can be an indication for illegally generated clicks that unjustifiably reward affiliates for every visitor who has ever been on their Website, even without any reference to an advertising campaign. A campaign analysis system could of course uncover the trick.

In the case that fraud is discovered, the marketer should contact the affiliate directly to give a warning or withdraw the commissions.

By Daniela La Marca