bot programs

Fraudulent Bot Programs and Your Affiliate Campaign

Fraudulent activity including the use of bot programs used to target marketing campaigns is increasingly common. They can be particularly harmful when used in a way that the business may not notice straight away, and so will continue to put money into an affiliate program.

Fraudsters can make use of bot programs to drain your marketing budget and steal your money while leaving you without the leads and conversions that you are paying your affiliate partners for. They have lots of methods, and they can present themselves in different ways, all with varying effects on your business and your marketing campaigns.

Take a look through the different reasons frauds make use of bot programs, how they can affect your marketing campaigns and how you can both identify and put a stop to them with just a few simple steps:

Why Frauds use Bot Programs

The main reason that frauds will use bot programs to target businesses is for money. Both marketing agencies and companies can be ideal targets for fraudsters to take money from by using form-filling and click bots.

Bots are also incredibly cheap and easy to use. The price of a bot works out at around a $700 investment to hack around 1,400 computers, which can earn fraudsters millions of dollars. Also, using bots doesn’t require any skills from the hacker. Usually, botnets that can be rented out are pre-made to do whatever task a fraudster needs them for, from taking on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks or even partaking in affiliate marketing fraud.

So overall, hackers don’t need any specific skills and only a small budget to be able to generate massive profits for themselves by targeting your affiliate marketing campaigns.

How Bot Programs Can Impact You

So why do you need to care about frauds using bot programs? Mainly, because they can target and destroy your affiliate marketing campaigns.

If a bot program is filing out millions of forms each day, your affiliate advertising budget would be used up in a matter of hours. This will not only lose you lots of money, but also lots of potential sales and site visits. You should know that generally, fraudsters will not be quite as blatant when it comes to targeting, however,, they still have the potential to scam you out of a lot of money and sales, often without their targets ever knowing.

Other Ways that Fraud Can Impact You

Apart from losing money, here is a quick overview of the other negative impacts bots could have on your marketing campaigns:

  • Fines and User Data Protection violations
  • Bad PR reputation
  • Unreliable marketing data
  • Loss of sales

Now that you know just a few of the ways in which bot programs can negatively impact your affiliate marketing campaigns, how can you stop it from happening?

How to Keep Frauds Away

If you want to minimise the impact that fraudsters will have on your marketing campaigns, there are preventative methods that you can use to keep frauds away, or at least to help you identify any bot programs that may be targeting your business and get rid of them.

Make use of “honeypot” forms

A honeypot form is a form field which is only visible inside the code of a web page and cannot be seen by human users. This means that any bot program that is trying to infect your page will attempt to fill out this field, immediately identifying itself as a bot. You can then flag all of these inputs as fake so that they are not taken into account in your marketing data.

Set up a Fraudster Policy

You will need to identify and outline a plan for dealing with fraudsters so that you and your affiliate marketers know what will happen if any fraudulent activity is detected. You should also outline which authorities, partners and advertising agencies you will report any fraud to in an attempt to protect other marketers.

Track Website Visitor IP Addresses

If you notice a lot of leads coming from a single IP address, you may need to investigate these transactions more closely, as this can often be an indicator of fraudulent activity. Often, less sophisticated bot programs will use just one data centre for every bot they use, which will give all of them the same IP address.

Trace Fraud to its Origin with Marketing Data

If you really want to stop fraudulent activity, you’ll need to trace it all to the source. You can use your marketing data to identify which of your affiliate marketers are bringing in fake leads and then you can cut them off. If you can provide evidence of fraudulent behaviour, it will be much easier for you to cut off fraudulent partners while keeping the trust of valuable ones.

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