Why affiliate call fraud matters

By Michael FosterFebruary 11, 2015

There is a new threat to marketers and lead generation firms, and it looks a lot like some old enemies. That threat is affiliate call fraud, and it’s quickly becoming a nuisance to legitimate marketing campaigns.

The threat emerged after pay-per-call became a currency for marketing campaigns in which lead generators began paying per call, in turn encouraging fraudsters to begin finding illegitimate calls to promote to advertisers. While the issue has not made the headlines as often as click-fraud, it is still a serious problem for what is a potentially lucrative corner of the advertising world.

Pay-per-call, or PPC advertising, is a model in which direct response advertisers pay for impressions on a per-call basis. The idea is that calls are a legitimate signal of real, deep in-the-funnel interest in a product or service, and a PPC campaign will reward high-performing publishers and ad networks appropriately.

Additionally, PPC began as the solution to the problem of click-fraud. Clicks are easy to farm and counterfeit; calls, so the theory went, are not so easy. This remains true — the barrier to entry is higher for fake calls than fake clicks — but it isn’t insurmountable. Therefore, it will weed out some fraudsters but not all.

This is itself a problem. Because call fraud is difficult to develop, only the most sophisticated fraudsters will enter the market. That, in turn, makes fraud tracking and accountability much harder for marketers and publishers alike.

This is the quandary that marketers and lead generation firms currently find themselves in, and it is the focus of a session at this year’s LeadsCon in Las Vegas. Three speakers will join Eric Evans of HyperTarget Marketing to discuss this issue and potential solutions. Evans is an industry leader in the emerging field of PPC marketing. Identifying the power of call generation advertising early on, HyperTarget began working with brands and publishers in traditional and online media to identify ways to improve call-generation marketing.

Most recently, HyperTarget has focused on bridging the gap between online and offline PPC marketing, which is both an exciting and challenging development. On the one hand, smartphones and the intersection of search, display and telephony makes PPC and digital a perfect fit, helping to unlock massive local advertising budgets that have stayed offline despite increased digital consumption. On the other hand, the hypergrowth of the market has attracted unsavory characters, bringing fraud into the limelight and encouraging more marketers to battle this scourge on the industry.

Joining Evans are Dan Altman, marketing manager of Empire Today, Anna Jefferis, senior director of Channel Partnerships & Business Development at Invoca, and Mike Williams, VP of Marketing and Operations for RingPartner.

Together, these three panelists will discuss what schemes are currently being used by fraudsters and the best ways to combat them. Additionally, they will discuss their own experience with PPC campaigns and how they have helped to make these efforts successful for clients, causing higher revenue and fewer wasted media dollars.

Click here to register for LeadsCon Las Vegas 2015.

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