Affiliate fraud is a losing proposition for everyone involved. Affiliate networks lose because it's hard to retain advertisers when your program quality is suspect. Advertisers lose because fraudlent leads fail to convert into paying customers. Honest affiliates lose because there's less money to go around for the legitimate conversions.
Affiliate fraud is a losing proposition for everyone involved. Affiliate networks lose because it’s hard to retain advertisers when your program quality is suspect. Advertisers lose because fraudulent leads fail to convert into paying customers. Honest affiliates lose because there’s less money to go around for the legitimate conversions.
When I talked to Ben Edelman about affiliate fraud earlier this year, I was fascinated by the creative lengths bad actors will go to for suspect conversions. As these bad actors get more sophisticated, we continue to need more powerful tools to detect their fraudulent behavior and marginalize them out of business. That’s one of the key reasons HasOffers integrated ScrubKit into our platform – it is one of the most powerful fraud detection tools on the market.
How ScrubKit Works
ScrubKit analyzes affiliate conversions in real time to assess the potential for fraud. Each transaction is assigned a score, with color coding for those leads with a higher probability of fraud. What is ScrubKit looking for exactly?
One obvious source of fraudulent leads is the source IP address. If an affiliate is self-submitting leads, all leads generated will typically appear to be from the same IP address. ScrubKit allows you to cluster leads from a common IP, so you can see which affiliate is delivering the leads. IP address can also be an indicator if it originates in a country different than the one required by offer targeting or in cases where a lead entry service may have multiple workers entering leads in a manner that could appear more unique.
Browser fingerprinting is another method for determining the probability of affiliate fraud. Most browser configurations are unique enough that even taking any browser configuration at random, the likelihood of finding a match is only 1 in 286,777, according to a study by the EFF. That means that even when a different IP address is used, the chances are pretty good that multiple form submissions from the same browser can still be detected, especially if they are done in close proximity.
ScrubKit also examines header information to look for data that may be manipulated to appear unique. If header information doesn’t appear to be copacetic with what should be expected in a lead submission scenario, ScrubKit will flag a lead as potentially fraudulent.
Leads and conversions are checked for possible spyware and adware originated conversions. If a script is filling out forms on a computer without the user’s knowledge, it exhibts certain characteristics that ScrubKit identifies.
While this automated detection is highly accurate, it still leaves the affiliate network or advertiser in control of fraud reporting. Rather than outright reject the conversions, the advertiser may opt to use the data provided by ScrubKit as a point of conversation with the affiliate. Or if nothing else, it’s validation that an affiliate manager’s gut feeling about an affiliate is accurate.
Why Use ScrubKit?
ScrubKit is specific to CPA and leadgen offers, where no credit card information is gathered. Because these conversions require no financial transaction, they are a prime opportunity for fraudsters to attempt to manipulate the system. Offers that are primarily commerce based can rely on the fraud detection tools available in conjunction with the merchant processor used in processing credit card data.
While Scubkit isn’t a panacea, my guess is that affiliates looking to commit fraud will think twice about trying to cheat programs that are protected by their fraud analysis tools.
How are you combating affiliate fraud in your own programs?
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.