A recent article from The Wall Street Journal, “A Crisis in Online Ads,” shows that over one-third of traffic generated from online ads is fraudulent. So-called bot traffic cheats advertisers because marketers typically pay for ads whenever they are loaded in response to users visiting Web pages—regardless of whether the users are actual people. Though a few marketers simply plan to cut back on digital advertising, many are getting more aggressive in monitoring what they are getting from their marketing efforts.

So how can you ensure that your paid advertising and marketing budget isn’t being wasted?

As a Paid Media Strategist at Three Deep Marketing, Carie Otto leads the strategy, planning, and implementation for paid media campaigns . Using AdWords, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, and additional ad networks, Carie develops strategies to increase lead flow, e-commerce purchases, enrollments, or awareness for products and services all while maintaining a positive and ever-improving ROI. In response to this crisis in online ads, Carie offers 7 steps to ensure your paid search traffic is authentic and get the most bang out of your marketing bucks.

1. CPC over CPM

CPM payment models in online advertising campaign mean that you’re paying for impressions of your ad – whether it’s in the most effective placement or not. Shifting to a CPC model ensures that you’re only paying for clicks on that ad. This shifts some responsibility to the network to show that ad at the right time to the right person in order to earn your advertising dollars. This also helps to minimize the monetary impact of impression fraud, though of course, some click fraud is still a possibility.

2. Avoid search partners & content networks who don’t verify traffic

There are networks that consistently generate fraudulent click traffic. Avoid them at all costs. Historically, Bing Ads’ search partner networks have generated a high volume of fraudulent clicks and form fill-outs as well. While Bing has some other great services, you’ll want to avoid the Bing search partner network and Bing content network like the plague. Google is much better at catching and refunding fraudulent click costs, so invest in their search partners and content networks.

3. Don’t use bots to verify—use constant human account monitoring

Ensuring that a paid media specialist has eyes on a clients’ accounts multiple times per week is the most effective form of verification. This means that fraudulent activity can be noticed early and resolved quickly.

4. Focus on results, not awareness, for true lead gen

Results-oriented campaigns, mainly focusing on lead generation tend to have less waste because they require that clients receive quality leads at a set cost per acquisition. If budgets are being wasted on non-transparent ad network CPM buys, there will be fewer acquisitions at a higher cost. Shying away from these types of engagements minimizes waste and improves ROI.

5. Experienced professionals minimize wasteful spending

There are numerous tools to manage basic online marketing activities. However, like other industries, it’s more effective and impactful to have an expert professional on hand. For example, Three Deep Paid Media Specialists have a minimum of 5 years of experience managing paid media campaigns. Their well-trained eyes can catch a bad placement and remedy the situation fast. We opt to only use advertising partners that provide a high level of transparency about placements and excellent fraud reporting systems for our clients.

6. Use analytics for traffic verification

Regularly scheduled reporting within advertising platforms allows for monitoring of where ads are served and where clicks are generated. Layering that with (professionally set) Google Analytics data makes sure that all ads are served appropriately.

7. Constant monitoring & reporting: where your money went & what you’re getting for it

Companies should always have access to basic information about how their advertising dollars are being spent, and how much time and money it takes to manage that spend. Avoid agencies and networks that don’t want you to ask questions. That won’t show you what percentage of your spend went to media versus account management.

Three Deep Marketing has a proven track record of going well beyond the basics: we show you how much traffic paid media drove to your site, what people did on your site, how many leads that advertising drove, phone calls generated by paid media, what sites display ads were placed on, and much more. Visit our Portfolio and read about how we increase marketing effectiveness and pro-actively exceed client goals through detailed prioritization of measurement and results analysis not just for paid media campaigns, but across the entire digital marketing spectrum.