Simon Wajcenberg, CEO of Customer Lead Generation Specialist, Clash- Media Explains how Companies can Overcome the Attacks of Fraudsters in the Lead Generation Process and Ensure They buy Only Genuine Leads for Their Marketing Campaigns.

As we move further into 2009, the issue of fraud is a large and yet still growing one in the Online Lead Generation industry. Incentivised campaigns that see consumers rewarded for contributing their data, or websites remunerated for the number of leads that they provide, can make these campaigns highly susceptible to fraud.

With most marketing campaigns, you can reckon that around ten per cent of the results from any data gathering or lead generation campaign will be bogus - submitted by fraudsters. That on its own is a significant level. However, some campaigns will be targeted specifically - whether because of ease of access or the rewards on offer - and this can see the level of fraudulent data rise to as high as 80 or 90 per cent. This is unacceptable.

How can marketers distinguish between genuine leads and lead generation providers, and the bogus information coming from fraudsters?

The Impact of Fraud
If a client receives 10,000 leads, and 8,000 are false, there are multiple implications for a business. First, if the client is unable to return those leads, then that company will have wasted significant amounts of their budget on a lead generation solution that they cannot use.

But secondly and more importantly, even if all fraudulent leads can be returned and replaced with genuine ones, an employee at some level still has had to discover that those 8,000 leads are bogus. The drain on resources that this can have will make the efficiency of the campaign very low indeed, timescales for achieving success may be almost doubled, and the leads will be less fresh when eventually actioned.

Fraudulent leads have a direct impact on the success of any marketing campaign, not just in terms of budgets but in terms of success. At a time when budgets are being more heavily scrutinised than ever, clearly visible success from a performance-driven lead generation service is essential. And there are ways of tracking and eliminating fraudulent leads at source, before the client receives the leads.

Stopping the Robots
A large portion of known fraud is committed through the use of robots, which will fill out multiple forms in a short space of time. Setting up an automated system that can submit, for example, 1000 leads per hour means that fraudsters can produce high volumes of leads for very little effort. If each lead is bought for, say, 20p, then a 'robot' can generate false leads worth GBP200 every hour.

Quality monitoring systems, such as Clash-Media's have the ability to stop the success of robots by running a thorough analysis of every lead as it is submitted. Clash-Media's own automated system is able to verify the validity of email addresses, personal addresses and spot any signs that a robot has been attacking the campaign - for example by identifying a pattern in email addresses such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] all in quick succession.

Why don't more organisations do this?
The process of weeding out fraudulent data is one that, without the right systems in place, can be very difficult and time consuming to execute and manage. It is not a job that can be done manually without taking a lot of time, which would obviously negate the freshness of the lead and lower the chances of conversion. Organisations need to have sophisticated systems in place to carry out this verification - especially if they're dealing in large volumes of leads.

The systems that are in place to find bogus data are dual-purpose: they not only verify the data as genuine, but they can also confirm that the lead generated is relevant for the client and campaign that it has been gathered for. Clash-Media gathers leads specifically for a client's needs - rather than pulling them from a database - so each one if checked both to confirm it is real and to verify its quality. Many organisations will not go to these lengths to verify their leads because they are providing a low cost data service to clients. However as we have just seen, despite the low initial cost, fraudulent and even low-quality leads can end up costing a company more in the long run.

Marketers must ensure that they use the best data providers that can demonstrate security measures that assess the quality of every lead on an individual basis and that can identify many of the hallmarks of fraud attacks.

Organisations that have in place a strict quality module that processes and verifies every lead submitted will be able to cut out a lot of the fraud that happens. This will not stop fraudsters from submitting bogus data, but it will stop this false information from being passed on to clients.

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