Affiliate fraud and bot attacks can ruin your users’ experience from day 0

Discover the techniques used to detect and prevent affiliate fraud and bot attacks in real time to aid successful conversions without harming the UX.

Maciej Pitucha

Chief Data Officer

17 April 2023


4 min read

As online businesses strive to acquire new users, they put a lot of effort into offering seamless experiences to facilitate successful conversions.  However, when looking to attract more visibility and traffic, they must also be aware of the risks. Affiliate fraud and bot attacks can generate false traffic or slow down the loading time on their website, causing friction and cart abandonment. To fight these two enemies,  you need to understand them inside out and use advanced techniques that X-ray every user in real time, silently in the background, without harming the UX.

The user acquisition stage

User acquisition is a critical phase where businesses attempt to attract and onboard new customers to their product, service, or brand. Monitoring this stage aims to identify and prevent potential fraudulent activities before they can impact the system. 

During the user acquisition stage, consumers interact with the business through various channels, such as browsers or mobile apps. By monitoring these channels, businesses can gain insights into users' behavior and assess their true intentions. 

Affiliate fraud

Affiliate marketing is often used as a means of attracting new users and customers.  While many affiliate marketing schemes are legitimate, there are also dishonest affiliate marketers that take advantage of the system and can harm the user acquisition process, damaging a brand's reputation. An affiliate partner is paid a commission for every sale they generate on behalf of the merchant. In turn, fraudsters can manipulate the system by creating fake accounts, generating fake downloads, and fake bookings, depending on the industry. Deceitful digital marketers typically charge a merchant for actions that will not end up with real conversions, such as registering a user to collect a marketing bounty. 

This fraud can take many forms such as click fraud, lead fraud, and conversion fraud. In all these cases, fraudsters generate fake leads or fake conversions to earn a commission, and their primary weapons are bots,  automated scripts, or click farms, but also stolen credit card details. Also, in an attempt to evade fraud detection algorithms, fraudsters use fake user profiles and VPNs to hide their true location and intentions. 

Bot attacks

Affiliate fraud and bot attacks often go hand in hand in certain situations. Fraudsters use bots to simulate human-like behavior by clicking on affiliate links or creating impressions on ads. They also perform cookie stuffing or cookie dropping, a technique in which an affiliate injects their tracking cookie into a user's browser without the user's consent or knowledge. All this manipulation of advertising metrics results in harm being done to a brand’s reputation, advertising metrics, and of course, their bottom line. 

Bots can also be programmed to complete actions such as filling out forms, downloading apps, or even making purchases to generate fraudulent conversions. In referral programs, fraudsters may use bots to automate the creation of multiple fake user accounts. By generating numerous referrals, the fraudster can receive commissions or rewards for bringing in new users, even though these users are not genuine.

Of course, bots and affiliate fraud are not always intertwined, as hijacking a website or app performance is a scope outside of affiliate marketing as well. In the user acquisition stage, fraudsters generally rely on bots to automate actions such as opening accounts or digital onboarding with fake identity details. 

The power of data and intelligence

By collecting and analyzing various device fingerprinting data attributes in real-time, companies can develop effective strategies to detect and prevent fraud at the user acquisition stage. It is essential to track and analyze specific user information, such as location, device type, IP address, browsing habits, and behavioral biometrics. By closely examining these data attributes, businesses can identify patterns that may indicate a high likelihood of fraudulent activity, such as the presence of bots or other automated processes. Unusual behavior patterns, such as high volumes of identical actions performed in short periods, and slowing down of your site can signal the use of bots or other automated tools.

We understand the importance of staying informed about emerging fraud methods, and our fraud detection solutions proactively monitor and block over 100 types of potential fraudulent tactics on websites and mobile apps, keeping your business safe.

Fraudsters often attempt to hide their actions by modifying browser properties or employing fake GPS data. To counter these tactics, we gather thousands of unique data attributes related to hardware, software, devices, networks, and user behavior, creating a digital fingerprint for each user. This allows for reliable identity confirmation between website visits and helps you reduce fraud risks.

Human-readable anti-fraud recommendations

As we continually monitor fraudsters' evolving tactics, we gather valuable intelligence and reverse-engineer their techniques to refine our fraud recognition capabilities. Our AI-powered fraud solution is continually evolving, while our fraud intelligence from the dark web allows us to train our machine learning models to stay up to date with the latest fraud tactics and tools. For example, affiliate fraud is always committed while dishonest marketers use VPN services - something which our solutions can detect with great effect. 

For all the tech that goes into detection and prevention, all our recommendations are shown to you in our panel in a human-readable format. In the event of an attempted attack, we provide real-time recommendations, allowing you to respond swiftly and maintain optimal protection for your business. 

If you’re struggling with the challenges posed by bot attacks and affiliate fraud, get in touch to learn how we can help you eliminate such concerns, ensuring a seamless and secure user experience right from the start. 

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Ready to detect fraud?

Start measuring fraud attacks today and find out if there are malicious marketers and bots threatening your site. Arrange a call to discuss a tailored solution or explore our platform for free.

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