Ad fraud is a subset of invalid traffic that is generated with malicious intent. Perpetrators of ad fraud typically generate it in order to either sabotage the advertising efforts of another business or for financial gain.
One example of ad fraud as a form of sabotage is when businesses intentionally click their competitors’ advertising. They can click themselves, use scripts to programmatically click, or enlist the services of third parties to conduct this activity. The objective is to drain their competitors’ ad budgets so that less ads are shown to real users, making it harder for those businesses to attract new clients. When the target’s budget is drained completely, it is then easier/cheaper for the perpetrator to get their ad placed.
Other forms of ad fraud are directly financially motivated. Traffic sources and publishers get paid when they display ads and when ads they serve are engaged with. To increase revenue, they can introduce fraudulent traffic to make it appear as if they are driving more ad impressions and clicks on advertising.
Engagements from ad fraud have no genuine interest in the ads interact with and result in no advertising ROI.