Published: 12/11/2021

Ad Fraud Techniques

What are the main ad fraud techniques?

Ad fraud techniques aim to fool advertisers into thinking that an ad unit has been viewed or interacted with when it hasn’t been seen or clicked on at all.

Common ad fraud techniques

Ad fraud comes in different shapes and sizes, but the most common ad fraud techniques are botnets, hidden text and links, spoofing sites, invisible ads, and incentivized traffic.


Botnets, as an ad fraud technique, are used for many purposes – including spamming, click fraud and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Dishonest publishers and hackers have been known to use botnets to inflate advertising impressions by robotically reloading the ads on a page multiple times per second. This causes a high number of impressions and false engagement with the ad.

In ad fraud, publishers may add one or more hidden text ads to a page that they then submit to an ad exchange for monetization.

This is a deceptive technique where the advertiser’s brand or product name is hidden as text or in hyperlink form inside of another link.

Spoofing sites

Hackers also have been known to use an ad fraud technique in which they create spoofed or cloned websites in an attempt to trick advertisers into thinking that their ad is appearing on a popular, trusted site.

For example, a fraudulent publisher could try to mimic ABC News by using instead of or use instead of

Invisible ads

Dishonest publishers may add an ad unit to a page that is not visible on the screen. This happens when the publisher places the ad tag in a non-rendered part of the page, by using various techniques such as iframes and placeholders.

Incentivized traffic

Incentivized traffic occurs when a publisher offers something of value (such as an entry into a sweepstake) to the person who clicks on an ad unit.

The incentive may cause users to click on ads they wouldn’t normally and artificially inflate advertiser performance, causing advertisers to pay for misleading and invalid impressions.

How to fight ad fraud

To avoid falling victim to these ad fraud techniques, advertisers should work with reputable ad-tech vendors and demand transparency in ad buying.

Only buy inventory through direct (open exchange) or indirect (private marketplace) exchanges where the digital marketplace safeguards are strong. Advertisers can also implement technologies like Netacea’s Intent Analytics™, which works to reduce the risk of fraud in real-time.

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