Ad fraud prevention firm CHEQ enters PPC market

The CHEQ PPC dashboard. Image: CHEQ.

CHEQ, a cybersecurity firm focused on ad fraud prevention, is expanding its ad verification solutions beyond impression-based programmatic advertising. It has launched a solution designed for paid search and paid search advertising channels called CHEQ PPC.

With the majority of digital ad spend going to paid search and social platforms, CHEQ says it has seen significant growth in click fraud with nearly one in five clicks proving non-human and/or fraudulent, according to a recent study commissioned by the firm.

CHEQ CEO Guy Tytunovich, a cyber-security veteran who started the company with a team of former defense intelligence engineering colleagues roughly four years ago, says Google, Facebook and other PPC platforms do a good job in fighting fraud, “and yet, there’s still an issue there … because there’s an inherent problem with solving [it] when you’re the biggest sitting duck on the internet.”

Citing the cyber-security truism of attacker advantage, he said, “There’s still X% of fraud that they could never eradicate.”

How it works. CHEQ PPC is designed to add a preemptive layer of protection against invalid clicks and fraudulent traffic on Google Ads, Facebook Ads and other cost-per-click-oriented platforms.

CHEQ PPC monitors the traffic that comes into advertisers’ sites or apps from their PPC campaigns and uses “thousands and thousands of honey pots” behind the scenes to identify anomalies in behavior. It is designed to block benign and malicious scrapers and web-crawlers, botnets, click farms, out-of geo clicks as well as suspicious human-driven behavior like competitor clicks and affiliate fraud.

It can connect to just about any network — Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Quora, etc.

The primary focus is on pre-emptive prevention, said Tytunovich, “where Google or Facebook or any other platform doesn’t even need to reimburse the advertiser because we’re basically excluding those fraudulent users from every being targeted.” Reimbursements, therefore, are “typically minuscule because the vast majority [of invalid traffic] is blocked preemptively,” he said.

There are two pricing models. One for small businesses, priced on click volume, and another for mid-market and enterprise companies based on levels of media spend.

Monitoring and analytics. To understand what the level and impact of bots and invalid traffic is CHEQ allows a small, but statistically viable amount of bot traffic through for monitoring purposes. On the CHEQ PPC dashboard (see above), advertisers can see that activity on a campaign level, and even keyword level for search campaigns, in various levels of granularity. There are also heat maps to show how the bots with mouse or scrolling capabilities behaved on the page or in the app. “Essentially what we’re showing is the volume of invalid users that would have come to the page without blocking,” Tytunovich explained.

Why we care. Ad fraud is not going away. CHEQ joins a number of other companies such as ClickCease, Clixtell, ClickGuard, TrafficGuard and PPC Protect in this arena. The company says it sees room in the PPC market for its cybersecurity-rooted, proactive approach to blocking fraudulent activity in the first place.

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