It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month — a good time to catch up with Middletown’s Anura to learn about what’s new in online fraud prevention.
It’s no secret that social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are hotbeds for ad fraud, aka click fraud, in which bots or hired users may click companies’ legitimate ads and cost them money by, for instance, filling out forms with stolen info. Yet many companies rely on these platforms for advertising and can’t just disengage with them to avoid cyberthreats to their ad campaigns.
Anura has recently launched AI integrations that its founders say automatically and proactively hide ads from fraudulent users before they get a chance to click on them. This tech goes beyond IP blocking, which is common in cybersecurity. Instead, they’re blocking individuals on these platforms, as well as on Google.
“With IP blocking, you could be blocking a company IP address which has hundreds of people behind it,” said Rich Kahn, who founded Anura with his wife, Beth Kahn, in 2005. “We found a way to tag an individual user using the technology that Google and all these other platforms have.”
When a tagged individual — the bot or hired user — visits a website with ads or a social media platform, the ads of an Anura client using the integrations will be hidden from them, preventing them from clicking on their ads.
That can make an impact: According to a 2019 Juniper Research study, advertising fraud is a $42 billion industry and growing.
This kind of fraud, whether the “fake” clicks come from low-paid humans or bots, can take down companies in several ways.
“What if I get your personal information, and I go in and I fill out a form for, say, an insurance quote, using your information, and the company picks up the phone and they call you based on that,” Kahn said. “You say, ‘I never filled out a form.’ First off, the company has spent money and resources to generate that form that’s never going to convert. If they’re a big brand and this happens enough times, you’re going to be more concerned with how this company got your information — it’s a brand reputation issue. And finally, one of the biggest risks is you that didn’t give them express permission to call them. So they just broke TCPA compliance, and that can become a big problem on the advertiser.”
Ad fraud is the primary application for this individualized blocking technology, but Kahn said it can be applied just about anywhere people try to game the system. Clients such as gaming companies and companies that do surveys and sweepstakes are among those that target online cheaters who may be outside of the ad fraud industry.
“We already have a bunch of clients using it and it’s working great,” Kahn said. “One client is using it on Google Display Network. They were running around 45 to 50% fraud. It’s now down to under 10% in just a couple weeks.”-30-