Q&A with TrafficGuard's VP Customer Growth: Ad Fraud and Invalid Traffic in the Sports-betting Industry

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TrafficGuard holds that the best advertising performance comes from decisions based on accurate data. It also helps brands distinguish real traffic from the false ones, making brand spend really count. VP for customer growth Patricia Frejio talks about how ad fraud and invalid traffic specifically affect one popular industry in the Philippines: sports-betting.

What are the main components of ad fraud affecting the sports betting industry in the Philippines?

Sports betting and the NBA make up a huge part of Filipino culture. In fact, the Philippines consistently ranks the highest in terms of NBA viewership. This love of the game also contributes to the popularity of sports betting making up a large portion of the PHP$30,026,771,615 per quarter betting industry. In order to differentiate from competitors, it is not uncommon for sports-betting companies to spend large amounts on Google Ads as a core customer acquisition method.

Ad fraud is very familiar to the advertising community, but, like anything, it remains an ever-evolving threat. Bad bots and click farms are the most prevalent and familiar forms of ad fraud. However, more recently, other menaces have emerged, including click spamming, whereby fraudsters execute clicks for users who haven’t made them and steal organic users. Geomasking, where fraudsters hide the location of clicks they have generated, has also become more sophisticated. While there are many forms of Ad Fraud that affect betting companies in the Philippines, there are three main drivers we have identified that significantly decrease a large portion of marketing revenue.

The first would be the high customer acquisition cost. Betting companies are bidding in a very competitive market with restricted targeting. Most betting companies invest large sums of money to secure the best advertising spots over competitors. This includes offering high amounts for credible websites and paying relevant websites to feature the company on the recommendations list. Bad actors hosting these websites may direct bots to click spam these ads or affiliate links which increases the amount that these betting companies have to pay to them.

The second would be free bonuses abuse. Companies typically  offer attractive no-deposit sign-on bonuses of sometimes, up to PHP 7,000. These are huge drivers of new customer acquisition. However, they are also very attractive to fraudsters with automated bots developed to create fake accounts and steal bonuses. These bonuses are then used to make multiple bets for both sports teams increasing the chances of winning. Sophisticated networks of bad actors can leverage millions of IPs to commit bonus fraud almost entirely undetected by betting companies.

Lastly, when searching for the company, existing customers are using the brand search campaigns as a front door to its website - over and over again. These are customers that would have accessed your website regardless of the presence of an ad, resulting in a huge inefficiency in the advertising.

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