TechLand Blog

Retargeting Fraud


  • According to a survey by IAB, 70% of marketers use retargeting as the primary tool to increase brand awareness and build the consumer’s trust in their business. 
  • However, the advertising budget of around 30-40% of the advertisers is exhausted by bots and non-human traffic that never converts.

While retargeting is said to have displayed staggering results in the programmatic ecosystem as far as user conversion is concerned, it also serves as the powerhouse of some of the most non-budget-friendly campaigns resulting in severe losses to the advertisers. Let us understand what makes retargeting a bane for modern advertisers. 

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is a behavioral strategy that involves attracting those users who have already visited a website. When a potential consumer does not complete the intended purchase on the website and leaves midway, retargeting ads are used to remind the consumer about the same. Push notifications from your favorite food delivery app, when there are items already added in your cart but not ordered, are an example of retargeting. 

What is a retargeting fraud?

An advertiser would be exposed to retargeting fraud when bots get involved in the process. Bots are usually programmed to perform human-like actions, including ad clicks and undertaking subsequent actions directed towards purchasing from a given website. When such invalid traffic drives retargeting campaigns, it is said to be a retargeting fraud. A bot attack without any conversion objective usually turns out to be the foundation of such ad frauds. The entire process is as follows:

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Impact of retargeting fraud


Advertisers spend more than 25% of their ad spending on retargeting campaigns. When targeted to genuine users, it yields a respectable return. However, when such campaigns are infiltrated by bots, the ROI constantly declines which, in turn, impacts the visibility of the brand. Retargeting fraud also imposes additional pressure on the advertiser’s pocket. Since each fraudulent click leads to expenditure without having the right system to determine the appropriate CPM (Cost Per Mile) calculation, such frauds boost the confidence of the fraudsters. 

Retargeting campaigns are aimed at driving greater conversions. The remarketing list used for undertaking campaign decisions consists of potential customers whose data has been obtained using various methods like list-based retargeting, pixel-based retargeting etc. Moreover, it also consists of keywords that are used for reaching people who are not a part of the remarketing list but might be interested in the product. When such keywords are bid in retargeting campaigns, it inflates the keyword bid price without creating an impact. This, in turn, also shrinks the overall advertising budget. 


Apart from advertisers, the publishers also face the detrimental impact of retargeting fraud. The bots that click on retargeting ads are often planted by fraudsters who also indulge in actions like cookie stuffing (internal link to the cookie stuffing article). Thus, the revenue that belongs to publishers ends up in the hands of the fraudsters who initiate such activities. Unknowingly and without any fault, the publishers can also lose access to ad networks. On the whole, retargeting fraud can sabotage the relationship between advertisers and publishers from a long term perspective. 

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ClearTrust to the rescue – How can we help?

ClearTrust is an Invalid Traffic (IVT) Management Software for media buyers and publishers. ClearTrust is a Software As a Service and provides monitoring, blocking and optimization of IVT for media businesses who deal in buying, trading and selling of programmatic digital media such as impressions and clicks. ClearTrust offers 100+ Filters, Accurate verification, Fast Action & Transparent Reporting. 

At ClearTrust, we have built specific traps related to Publisher fraud to get you out of this nuisance. By simply turning on these traps you can stop all traffic generated from bot networks, click farms, domain spoofing, injected ads, and many more. 

Not using ClearTrust yet?

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