Fraud Prevention & Being Right

Fraud and the determination of invalid traffic means you are evaluating commission payments.  When it comes to decisions about money, especially other people’s money, it can get tense. The best thing you can do is be right.  It’s a terrible mistake if you withhold  someone’s money, and end up being wrong.  The only thing worse than taking someone’s money and being wrong in doing so, is not giving it back.  If a mistake has been made, own up to it and do everything you can to do to remedy a payment as quickly as possible.  Learn from where the error was made, typically you’ll find you assumed something during your assessment.

So, how can you always be right?

For starters, get every question answered, every time.  Assume you are going to be cross-examined.  Be your own devil’s advocate.  Again, you are dealing with other people’s money.  You owe it to them to make sure.  Detecting fraud becomes instinctive, proving it should be methodical.  Don’t assume anything, find it, when you do, you’ll know you are right.

Document your assessment so you can go back to it, if need be.  I used to work off a checklist, each instance I used the same steps.  Now I have my checklist memorized and it’s evolved into a more if-than system.  I’m a bit more efficient, but equally as thorough.  Stay organized and save each piece of research, data, notes, etc.

Listen and don’t operate in a vacuum.  Talk to the affiliate manager and feel out the relationship they have with the publisher.  Consult with ad executive and get a sense of the advertiser.  Don’t get stuck thinking everything is bad, or everything is good.  It’s called the hammer syndrome.  When you carry around a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.  If you’re using all your resources in detecting fraud, that absolutely includes the utilizing the affiliate manager or ad executive that interfaces with the client or publisher.

Networks have an obligation to their advertisers AND to their affiliates. Advertisers must provide adequate information to justify charging back on leads.  The data usually speaks for itself.  But don’t just stop there.  Intentional targeting by the affiliate may at first glance result in a trend that is flagged by the advertiser, but is really just optimization on the part of the affiliate.  For example, a dating offer run via PPC may be targeted to a certain geographic location and time.  That’s why the IPs have a geographical consistency and the leads tend to come in at the same time of day.

There is no perfect background of education or experience for being successful at fraud detection at an affiliate network.  You toss legal, tech and marketing in a blender and push puree.  The best way to become good at detecting fraud is through experience.  Try not to leave the office without learning something each and every day.  The responsibility to make sure you are right in making decisions with other people’s commissions at stake is of the utmost importance. If your fraud deterrence is repeatedly failing, your networks reputation will be adversely damaged.

Keep up the great work and thanks for working with!


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