Partner Activity Fraud

In performance marketing, there’s a risk of a partner joining your network with the intent to run fraudulent traffic and inflate their earnings. Though there’s no bulletproof solution to partner fraud, you can better protect yourself by watching for typical signs of fraudulent activity. That’s where our partner activity fraud monitoring comes in.

TUNE provides fraud monitoring at the conversion level to show any signs of potentially illegitimate traffic being sent to your offers. By catching suspicious activity within the last 45 days, you can be quickly notified to review that partner and even automatically block partners that hit a given threshold of suspicious activity.

Because networks vary widely in business practices and with business partners, activity fraud monitoring is disabled by default. This article explains enabling and adjusting your activity fraud monitoring settings. Also see our article on partner profile fraud monitoring.

Enabling Activity Fraud Monitoring

Activity fraud monitoring is available only for enterprise accounts, and can be accessed from the Customize Application option in the Company menu. Click on Partner Activity Fraud from the Fraud Detection section. Enable this feature by setting the Partner Activity Fraud option in the Fraud Overview section to “Enabled”, then click Save.

Once enabled, you can tailor your fraud criteria to your needs and experiences. The following sections detail the criteria we evaluate and how to set them.

Setting Criteria & Weights

Once you activate activity fraud system, you can set the weight of each of the optional criterion to determine how much each check will influence the overall score of the partner’s activity fraud. You set which metrics contribute to activity fraud scores.

Fraud scores are percentages ranging from 0% (no fraud criteria triggered) to 100% (all fraud criteria triggered), with values in between meaning some but not all fraud criteria triggered. This fraud score isn’t a guarantee that a partner will or won’t run fraudulent traffic, but a best-guess based on your criteria.

Why You Set the Criteria

Although TUNE has a recommendation for settings (see below), we have you set the criteria so you understand what you’re checking for. Depending on where your partners do business, some criteria is irrelevant and others more important.

List of Criteria

Here are the criteria that you can set weights for. To modify them, click on the Edit button in the Fraud Criteria section:

  • EPC Exceeds Threshold: This is flagged if a partner’s earnings per click (EPC) for any offer is a specified percentage difference higher than the average EPC for all partners on those offers. This criterion measures only for the past day.
  • Daily Conversions: This is flagged if a partner’s conversions over the past day exceeds a specified number.
    Note: This includes any stat recorded as a conversion, including private goals (which partners would not see).
  • Duplicate IP Addresses: This is flagged if the partner’s conversions for offers using pixel-based tracking comes from the same IP address, exceeding a specified percentage of total conversions.
  • Days with No Activity: This is flagged if the partner exceeds a specified number of days with no conversions in the past 30 days. This criterion counts total days, not consecutive days.

Weights & Thresholds

Each criterion’s weight can be set to a value from 0 to 10. Any weight set to 0 won’t factor into the fraud score at all. Setting a weight between 1 to 10 is a relative rating: one set to “5” is five times more important to your fraud detection needs than something set to “1”, and half as important than one set to “10”.

There’s also a setting for each criterion named “Immediate Flag”. If that criterion is triggered, the account is flagged regardless of its score with other criteria.

Along with the weight, each criterion has a threshold for you to input. Those fields allow you to define how the criteria works.

activity-fraud-edit

Throughout each day, our fraud detection evaluates your network’s stats for the above criteria. Each criterion that’s positive increases the fraud score based on its weight. See the Recommended Weights section below for a detailed example.

Our recommended practice is to set those settings important to you at “5” to start, and leave those not important to you at “0”, then adjust up and down based on which criteria are more likely in your experience to indicate a fraudulent account. Anything that immediately makes you critically worried about fraud should be set to “Immediate Flag”.

Note: If a criterion’s threshold is set to 0, that criterion will never be flagged as true, but its weight will still count for evaluation purposes.

Recommended Weights

For those unsure of what weights to set, we provide these suggestions and the rationale behind them.

  • EPC Exceeds Threshold: weight at ‘5’, threshold at ’20’
  • Daily Conversions: weight at ‘0’, threshold at ‘0’
  • Duplicate IP Addresses: weight at ‘5’, threshold at ’30’
  • Days with No Activity: weight at ‘0’, threshold at ‘0’

The criteria set to 0 in this recommendation are meant for networks with more specific requirements for fraud detection. Use them only if you’re aware of your fraud detection needs.

To see an example of how fraud detection is calculated, see our partner profile fraud article.

Alert & Block Thresholds

The final piece to setting activity fraud detection up is setting thresholds: at which percentages you want an email notification of potential fraud or an account to be automatically flagged. To edit these settings, click the Edit button in the Threshold Settings section.

activity-fraud-threshold

If a new account’s percentage is higher than the Alert Threshold, you receive an alert in your network. If a new account’s percentage is higher than the Automatic Block Threshold, that account is immediately blocked and you’re notified. The same is true if any “Immediate Flag” criteria are triggered.

It a threshold is set to 0%, that threshold never triggers. In the case of our recommended default threshold settings, we have Automatic Block Threshold set to 0% so no accounts are automatically blocked.

Managing Fraud with Individual Partners

You can adjust an individual partner’s fraud score by navigating to that partner’s account from the Manage Partners page, then clicking on the View button in the Fraud section.

In the Activity Fraud section of the Fraud page, you can enable or disable any activity fraud flags that were raised by our system. The Profile Fraud section covers profile fraud for that partner. You can also manage custom profile and activity fraud thresholds for that partner in the Custom Threshold Settings section.

Viewing Activity Fraud Report

See our support article on the partner fraud report for information on this feature.