Preventing Affiliate Fraud: Even though it takes time to check out affiliates, this is your best defense against fraud, especially for big programs. Before you accept an affiliate, we suggest you look at the following:
You should list their website(s) to ensure they align with your brand.
- If they meet the standards of your brand.
- Whether or not they examine like a link farm.
- You should also look at the affiliate network or SaaS platform’s notes or history to see if the affiliate has been dishonest in other programs.
Make sure your new Terms and Conditions are followed.
It is always good to send a newsletter to all of your affiliates to let them know about changes to your affiliate terms and conditions. Set a date by which affiliates must change their promotional activities to meet your new rules.
This will ensure that honest affiliates follow your new rules and give them time to change their campaigns if they need to. Once the deadline has passed, start following your new rules to the letter. You can use Brandverity to keep an eye on paid search and trademark violations and stay on top.
Using data to find fraud
Your information is the most powerful tool you have to find fraud. Here are a few of the most important places to look in your data for signs of possible fraud:
Check the referring URLs and go to any pages you don’t trust.
If you see a lot of redirects, it could be that an affiliate is trying to hide where the traffic is coming from.
Ask for URLs and pictures of where your brand is advertised so that redirects can be made.
Check Alexa rankings, Similar Web data, audience engagement, and other metrics to ensure that sites that advertise your business can bring in the traffic they say they can. Shady traffic is often hidden behind front sites that look real at first glance but don’t have the traffic metrics to back up the number of conversions they claim to have.
Using sub-affiliate networks as part of your affiliate program might make it harder to spot fraud.
These networks give you instant access to thousands of more affiliates, which can help your program grow a lot. But because affiliates can always reapply to one of these sub-affiliate networks, you have less control over who you let into your program. Again, the best way to find fraud from affiliates in these networks is to look at your referring URLs and figure out where the lead or transaction came from. To evaluate traffic on a sub-affiliate level, you might want to force sub-affiliate network partners to return a unique ID for each publisher.
Can a single IP address handle more than one transaction? This could mean that the same person is using stolen credit cards to place several orders or is doing something else illegal. Try to make sure that these transactions are real. Another good way to find fraud is to look for patterns.
A suspiciously high order value could be a sign of credit card fraud.
Look out for these kinds of deals and find out more about them. This isn’t the affiliates’ fault because they can’t control who visits and uses their website most of the time. However, it’s important to stay on top of this.
If you see a big, strange rise in sales from one affiliate, it could signify something shady.
Large increases in sales or leads from affiliates who don’t usually do well should be considered. It would help if you were on the lookout for signs of attribution theft in any traffic. Key signs of this are:
- Click rates that are too high.
- Conversion rates are too low.
- Click-to-action times that are too long or too short for your program.
Make sure that your cookie length is the same amount of time as your returns policy so that you don’t have to pay commissions on orders that were canceled or sent back. This will mitigate the chances of you being out of pocket. If your return or cancellation policy is 30 days, make sure the length of your cookies is also 30 days.
Be ready to do something if you find any fraud. Write down what you found and give the affiliate a warning for breaking the rules. The affiliate may not comply because of a technical problem or something else that has nothing to do with compliance, and it will take more time to fix the problem. But if the problem comes up again or if the affiliate is involved in another attempt at fraud, you must kick them out of your program.
Set up a routine.
Once you’ve updated your affiliate terms and conditions and learned how to look for fraud in your program, it’s important to set up a routine to watch your affiliate program. We recommend setting aside one day a week to look over your data and fraud-checking tools to ensure your affiliates follow the rules.
First, check your fraud-detection software. Then, look at the URLs that your sales and leads are coming from (pay special attention to referring URLs from sub-affiliate networks). After that, please make sure there aren’t a lot of duplicate IP addresses by checking them. Lastly, look for sales and leads from affiliates who aren’t doing well that are different from the norm.
The last two things we suggest adding to your routine are making a blocklist of affiliates you don’t want in your program and stay up to date on industry trends and challenges.
You will have the best chance of finding and stopping fraud in your affiliate program if you make and stick to a routine.
Affiliate marketing is a common, powerful, and profitable way to grow your business, promote products, and make more money. But it’s significant to take precautions and be proactive if you want to keep scammers from getting into your program and campaigns. Keep in mind that you should carefully choose your affiliates and work with them. You should also keep a close eye on your affiliate program’s stats and user activity, block IP addresses that look suspicious, and get rid of affiliates who don’t follow the rules.