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Protect & Monitor Your Program

At this point in the partnership life cycle, your partnerships are up and running, your partners are set up to share data, and ideally, you're actively engaging with them through always-on communication.

The next step in the partnership life cycle—Protect and Monitor—outlines how to ensure that all the hard work you put into planning your program is properly executed. Now that your program is fully up and running, take the time to confirm that your program is free of partners that drive suspicious or unwanted activity.

When you actively monitor partner activity, you'll ensure the legitimacy of your partnership program. Take action when you see invalid partner activity and only reward partners that drive legitimate traffic.

How to protect your program

You can protect your program from fraud and present your brand in the best light by meeting the following criteria:

  • Verifying all transactions to safeguard from fraud.

  • Monitoring for rule violations, like partners using unlicensed trademarked terms in search ads.

  • Routing customers to their desired page when they click on an ad or an offer.

    • Remember: you own the links that partners share, so keep those links that partners share up-to-date

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Monitor your program for fraud

The following table suggests various ways to monitor your partnerships program for fraud.

There are also a variety of fraud types, learn more about the different types to look out for in our Types of Performance Fraud article.

Various fraud-monitoring methods

Monitoring Method

Description

Review transactions monthly

Check transactions as they come in and verify their validity on a monthly basis.

Be vigilant

Closely observe conversions for fraudulent behavior, as discussed above. It can also look like high click volumes, strange names, charge-backs, expired coupons, or anything else out of the ordinary. Conversions should be in line with what you've contracted with your partners.

Make use of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) compliance tools

SEM compliance tools automate the keyword review process and compare geographic locations where ads load, making it easy to capture and report offending ads.

SEM is especially valuable in finding keyword bids for trademarked and trademark + (TM+) terms. If affiliates bid on their brand's keywords, cost-per-click prices for those keywords are driven up.

Check on your pending actions and clicks

Each reported pending payout should tie back to your template terms. For example, if you're commissioning a partner to promote your higher-margin products, the pending action should be relevant to that payout group. If you find this not to be the case, consider reversing or modifying existing actions before they lock.

Keep coupons and promo codes up-to-date

Partners purposely using expired codes and coupons is an easily preventable form of fraud. Always make certain that your partners only have access to active promo codes and coupons.

Look into toolbar injections

Toolbar injections may not always be fraudulent; sometimes they're just signs of a low-value partner. If you feel a customer was already going to convert, the toolbar injection was not fraudulent activity. Some toolbar apps do bring incremental purchases while others may not—and therefore eat into your margin.

Ensure partner compliance

Verify that your partner adheres to the terms and regulations that apply to your program and offers.

In financial services, constantly changing deals require continuous updates to promotional details. If a partner doesn’t update details in a timely manner, your program could be violating Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)- or U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-enforced rules. Use an automated system to detect violations and a manual system to confirm them. The process also creates a critical paper trail for your in-house compliance team if you work in a heavily regulated industry.

Look out for influencer fraud

Suspicious and fake followers are relatively easy to spot. Telltale signs include odd or nonsensical usernames, low follower counts, limited or nonexistent postings, and no account image. Influencers with a high percentage of fake followers often have suspiciously low engagement metrics for their number of followers, a large number of mass followers (who follow many accounts in order to be followed back), and sudden spikes in followers.

Uncover engagement pods

Unique to Instagram, these groups of users engage with each other’s content in a coordinated fashion, increasing impressions and engagement to create the illusion of wider influence. These actions artificially increase the engagement metrics (like followers and comments) you’d rely on to assess an influencer’s return on investment (ROI). Once a pod is detected, it’s best to completely pull back spending.

Verify install and click activity

Monitoring install and click activity on your platforms will help you to avoid click spoofing, click spamming, click injection, and malvertising.

Employ social listening tools

Social listening tools automatically find and monitor new placements from your influencers and track their results. Also remember to track your brand names as hashtags, and track #ad and #sponsored content posted by your influencer partners.

Consider a CPI+ model

CPI+ models only pay partners out after a confirmation event takes place within the app. This ensures that not only is the app downloaded, but a real person is using it on the other end.

Configure fraud notifications

Set up fraud notifications in impact.com so you'll always know when the platform detects fraudulent activity.

Only let one marketing channel win conversion

If you have multiple marketing channels, they'll likely compete for the one winning click that leads to a conversion. Don’t risk counting a conversion twice. It's not fair to credit an impact.com partner if the winning click came from another paid resource. Use a solution that shows how other channels (and even other affiliate platforms) interact with your Performance program and deduplicate in real time.

How to handle fraudulent activity

The moment you detect fraudulent activity submitted by one of your partners, immediately report it to impact.com—either through live chat or by submitting a help ticket. The impact.com fraud and compliance team will begin their investigation into the partner at this time. While the investigation is ongoing, consider reversing all pending actions that the partner submitted.

Once the fraud and compliance team’s investigation is completed, you may be able to claw back any funds that haven't already been withdrawn from their impact.com partner account.

Types of Performance Fraud

To learn about the various types of fraud, visit our article on Types of Performance Fraud.

Learn about the Protect product suite

Protect uses machine learning and advanced bot fingerprinting to identify and block ad fraud so you can eliminate costly, ineffective marketing spend and keep your inventory safe. impact.com also understands that fraud is an ongoing battle. Malicious actors continue to look for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. impact.com's determined team of data scientists continually innovates technologies and strategies to protect your digital spending across the funnel and on every device. Protect does all this as it ensures ad viewability, domain and app placement integrity, and brand safety.

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Additional resources

Explore the following in-app guides, help articles, and infographics to supplement what you've learned above.

Help articles

If you need additional help, look for the blue Need Help button in the bottom-right corner of your impact.com Dashboard to live chat with a product specialist (or create a support ticket).

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