Lead generation and performance marketing-based programs revolve around a commission per defined action, such as when a user submits a form, signs up, or purchases an item. Lead generation fraud is any type of misrepresented user action or user data designed to fraudulently generate a payable commission.
Preventing Lead Generation Fraud: Analyze Campaign Metrics
Analyze click through (CTR) and conversion rates (CR) from the affiliates or lead source. Affiliates with a very high conversion rate, can represent a giant red flag that fraudulent traffic or malicious activity may be occurring. Affiliate and source tracking is also useful to help identify where most of your fraud is coming from. Once you’ve been able to identify which leads have disconnected phone numbers, low quality users, or generate reversals, you can then focus on cutting down the high-risk sources.
Check Bot Traffic & Detect Bot Form Submissions
One of the most accurate indicators to detect lead gen fraud is checking your traffic for any bot patterns. Fraudulent affiliates will frequently use bot programs since they can quickly complete repetitive tasks to submit fake leads or facilitate account creation fraud. Using a quick API request to analyze the IP address or device properties can accurately detect bot traffic. Everything from the frequency of submissions to the actual device behavior can be used to identify suspicious leads.
PQS has a released a detailed guide for preventing bots submitting forms, which can be helpful to better understand bot behavior. While many sites attempt to use a captcha to prevent lead generation fraud, this approach is now considered a legacy solution. IPQS can deploy a simple script on your forms and landing pages to detect bad bots even when they resemble natural human behavior. Compared to traditional captcha services, this approach also allows the user experience to be uninterrupted for good quality leads.
Validate Email Addresses
A wealth of data can be obtained simply by validating email addresses as they are fed into your system. Emails likely to bounce or deactivated accounts can be scrubbed your mailing lists. Taking this a step further, it’s also possible to identify email addresses recently exposed during a data breach which could be submitted from stolen user info. Fraudsters like to use real information whenever possible to try and fool any lead scoring services so being able to generate an email risk score is a great way to filter high risk leads.
Monitor Click Fraud
Click fraud is popular with abusive affiliates as the techniques overlap very closely with lead fraud. The IP addresses and browser combinations used for ad fraud are also used to submit invalid leads. Performing a quick IP reputation check to detect proxies or VPNs can help pre filter many leads. We recommend using a full suite of tools that work for both affiliate traffic and paid traffic sources to protect against click fraud.
Verify User Data
Beyond the email address, additional data points especially those from ping tree methods can be validated. In fact, performing phone validation on the lead’s provided cell or landline number can provide great insight into the overall lead quality. Google Voice, VOIP, and other risky services can help filter poor quality leads. Address verification for the postal address also provides a good indication of the lead’s health. Our APIs also support combined lookups an email, phone, IP, and similar user data can be combined into one simple reputation check.
Replace Captchas with Better Lead Gen Scoring
If you are currently using Google ReCaptcha or a similar captcha service, then you could be causing more harm than good to your traffic. Legitimate users can quickly become frustrated with obstacles that cause the user to be delayed in accessing content. For example, just a half second increase in page loading speed can increase bounce rates by over 5%. Here are a few solutions for captcha alternatives that can help increase the amount of good quality leads collected from your audience.
Finding the Right Balance
By using a combination of user validation methods to verify lead generation data, it’s possible to calculate an overall risk score for each lead and identify fraudulent affiliates that are sending the bulk of invalid leads. The methods discussed above can be applied to ping & post lead generation or even directly within forms. Whenever possible, it is recommended to pause sources that are sending high levels of fraudulent leads.
Pictured: Dennis Weiss, Co-founder and CEO of IPQualityScore, where he works with corporations, affiliate networks, media buyers and more to successfully and proactively prevent and eliminate proxy, click, credit card, registration, VPN & Tor, and affiliate fraud before it happens. Weiss serves as a Board Member at AdWork Media. He is a graduate of Oakland University.