Don’t be a victim of ad hijacking!

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Don’t be a victim of ad hijacking!

Ever since paid advertising became ubiquitous, with online ads serving as an incredible revenue stream for millions of businesses, within this legitimate digital ecosystem is an even greater threat - ad hijacking!

The scenario is very familiar: You are browsing on a website and then you spot an ad. It’s a well-known brand and you’re genuinely interested in the product. You click but it leads you to a different website. This is ad hijacking - and it both affects users and advertisers alike.

In this SEO Premier Blog, we’ll know more about ad hijacking, how to spot it, risks, and tips on how you can safeguard your brand from its threats.

What is Ad Hijacking?

Ad hijacking involves the unauthorised insertion of advertisements into web pages without the consent of website owners or users. Ad hijackers mimic a brand’s ads to steal clicks and revenue on certain keywords. Affiliates often resort to such nefarious practice to trick you into clicking on their ad instead of a real ad from another brand. They exploit vulnerabilities in the online advertising infrastructure to inject additional ads, pop-ups, or banners on web pages by camouflaging as legitimate ads.

Ad hijacking can be committed in two ways. First, an affiliate will show an ad that, upon clicking, will redirect you to the legitimate brand’s website. However, the ad carries the affiliate’s link, allowing them to steal a commission from a successful sale even if you purchased from the real brand.

Second method is the more insidious type of ad hijacking. It masks a sophisticated hijacker using a series of redirects to hide its involvement. The hijacked ad sends you to several websites before finally redirecting you to the brand’s landing page. This setup makes it difficult to spot the culprit and overall hurts that brand’s affiliate program.

Why Should You Care About Ad Hijacking

Ad hijacking has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond mere inconvenience. For users, it can lead to a compromised browsing experience characterised by intrusive ads, redirects to malicious websites, and potential privacy breaches as many hijacked ads can lead you to sites that contain malware. Moreover, ad hijacking can erode user trust in online advertising, fostering a climate of scepticism and suspicion toward digital marketing campaigns.

For businesses, the implications of ad hijacking are equally dire. Not only does it undermine the effectiveness of legitimate advertising campaigns by diluting their impact with injected ads, but it also poses a significant threat to brand reputation. Users who encounter intrusive or deceptive ads may associate them with the affected brand, tarnishing its image and credibility in the eyes of consumers.

Money-wise, the proliferation of hijacked ads can lead to either increased costs or reduced revenue. Advertisers now need to compete with hijackers who use affiliate programs, which means the cost-per-click for your ads goes up too. Conversely, you pay for clicks that don’t land on your website as hijacked ads steal clicks and redirect them somewhere else.

For ads specialists, hijacked ads can be a source of frustration because key metrics like impression share and revenue attribution become hard to track. The data becomes skewed and it’s harder to manage or improve your campaign’s performance.

How to Identify, Spot, or Prevent Ad Hijacking

Don’t wait before you fall victim! Given the pervasive nature of ad hijacking, it’s important for businesses to take proactive measures to safeguard their brand and mitigate the risk posed by this threat. Here are some actionable tips to help protect your brand from ad hijacking:

  • Monitor Your Online Presence: Stay vigilant and regularly monitor your website and online advertisements for any signs of ad hijacking. Look out for unexpected changes in ad placements, unusual spikes in ad impressions, or user complaints regarding intrusive ads.
  • Implement Secure Ad Networks: Partner with reputable ad networks and platforms that have stringent security measures in place to detect and prevent ad hijacking. Vet potential partners thoroughly and prioritise those that prioritise user privacy and security.
  • Use Advanced Protection Solutions: Get ad hijacking detection tools to continually monitor and defend your site from hijacking attempts.
  • Regularly Update Software: Keep your website's software, plugins, and content management systems (CMS) up to date to patch any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ad hijackers. Regular updates ensure that your website remains resilient against emerging threats.
  • Enforce Strict Ad Policies: Enforce strict ad policies that prohibit deceptive or intrusive advertising practices on your website. Clearly communicate these policies to your advertisers and take swift action against any violations to maintain the integrity of your brand.

And that’s how you fight against ad hijacking! Stay vigilant, stay informed, and take decisive action to restore a secure, relevant, and safe browsing experience for all your users!

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