Unsurprisingly, Twitter has become one of the most dominant channels for SaaS businesses to market their products and services. That said, Twitter's ubiquity also makes it a clear target for fraudsters looking to exploit the platform's potential for unfettered reach.
Indeed, the prevalence of these frauds, mostly involving spambots — and the resulting negative effects on brand safety — ignited much concern within the ad industry this past year. In this article, we discuss some of the frauds you may encounter while running Twitter ads, their effects on the marketing performance of your business, and how to go about dealing with them.
Types of Ad Fraud Found on Twitter
There are multiple types of ad fraud and unfortunately, Twitter isn’t spared from some of them. In this section, let’s go through some of the most common user-centric ad fraud seen on the platform.
This fraud is most commonly associated with CPA-based campaigns intended to get app installs. On Twitter's Ads manager, you'll see fraudulent clicks mimicking the behavior of real humans, only for these "users" to become inactive shortly after downloading the same apps.
SDK spoofing is almost always invisible by a cursory glance. Sophisticated fraudsters create bots that open and use promoted apps a few times after installation, further creating the illusion of real user engagements. A brand may end up injecting more money into the relevant Twitter ads without realizing they were never effective.
This fraud takes advantage of Twitter's advertising systems that facilitate targeting groups on mobile devices based on certain characteristics of their IP address. Fraudsters create multiple IP addresses from a single data center, fooling Twitter's spambot identification systems. They use this to set up automated Twitter accounts that can be used to spam real people.
Since there are millions of such fake users, some would match your ad's targeting preferences. Most of your campaign impressions could be attributed to them, appearing as though a lot of people have been retweeting and liking your ads. In reality, only a few of them might be actual humans.
Fake Users or Fake influencers
Fraud with fake users or influencers on social media can be manifested in many ways. In most cases, fraud usage is aligned with fake users that are geared towards generating fake likes, views, and other engagements - with advertising effects mostly collateral damage.
Brands and agencies can also fall prey to fake users or “influencers”. Partnering with fake influencers - users who have purchased a huge number of spambot followers, irrespective of whether or not they're pretending to be someone else, make their Twitter pages appear trustworthy.
The agency pays these "influencers" for promotions, and a network of similar bad actors with yet again thousands of fake followers cooperates to make each advertisement appear heavily engaging, fooling businesses into thinking there were genuine discussions about a certain brand's value proposition.
User-agent spoofing is a beneficial phenomenon used by developers to see how their websites appear on certain devices or browsers. Cybercriminals, however, use the tactic to masquerade as users of certain devices or browsers. They do this to evade getting flagged for unusual behavior by Twitter by running different user-agent headers.
Advertisers looking to target Twitter users by device types, locations, or even languages are most likely to fall prey to this fraud. If you're looking to exclusively promote your software to iOS device users, for instance, unknowingly reaching Windows device users hiding behind such a tactic could be catastrophic in many ways.
» Learn more: 9 Common Ad Fraud Methods and How to Deal with Them
Effects of Ad Fraud on Advertising Performance
Wasted media spend
From invalid clicks by bots to fraudulent impressions and fake engagement, fraud in your ads defeats the purpose of running paid campaigns on Twitter — in particular — and anywhere else on the web. Additionally, it is difficult to manually quantify just how much monetary damage is being done to your bottom line since Twitter spambots keep getting better at imitating real user behavior.
Tarnished brand image
Whenever a brand is associated with fraud of any nature — a fake influencer who purchased Twitter followers, for instance — the legitimacy of the brand starts to lose its value. Getting involved in Twitter scandals is no joke. Some PR damages can take years to fix and are far worse than any monetary loss can ever be.
Unreliable data insights
Marketing teams everywhere rely on the data they obtain from both paid and organic efforts to guide their strategic decisions. Fraudulent activities on a brand's Twitter ad will have an adverse effect on any insight derived from said data. If you're using the data from your Twitter campaigns to analyze your audience's behavior, false engagements can create false signals, thus impeding your ability to make better decisions about your business.
How Ad Fraud Prevention Tools Can Help?
Ad fraud prevention tools work around these fraudulent issues by optimizing your Twitter ads to only show to the right people on the right devices. The tools protect your ads by showing them only to the people you're targeting, keeping your engagement healthy, and allowing you to make informed decisions about your ad operations — confidently injecting more money into one ad group over another, for instance.
These protective tools save you not only money but also the time spent reading between the lines of your analytics for any suspicious behavior in ad performance. Anti-ad fraud tools use machine learning models to detect, combat, and prevent these attacks, enabling you to better steer the sails of your marketing efforts.
Many excellent ad fraud prevention tools like Spider AF offer granular ad diagnostic reports of your ad campaigns. This empowers advertisers to cut through the noise and focus on the data that matter most to their brand's overall marketing initiatives.
Although Twitter claims to be trying to fix fraud on its platform, actively fighting back against this issue with existing tools is one of the best things you can do for your business. Ad fraud is an epidemic on the web, as fraudulent behavior often isn't detected, and thus not reported, until too late. Ad fraud prevention tools safeguard your brand from such unscrupulous activity, keeping your messages authentic and your reputation intact. Begin your fraud-free journey with Spider AF's 14-day free trial today. No CC required!