Of the many fraudulent practices you might encounter as a marketer, ad stacking can be hard to spot. Like all of the click fraud practices, it skews your KPIs, loses you money and erodes trust in programmatic marketing in general. But, what is it?

Ad stacking is where a website publisher hosts multiple ads in the same space, stacked on top of each other so that only the top ad is visible. Often if its a clickable ad, one click will register on all of the stacked ads, or if it’s impression based then that view is logged across multiple ads.

In this manner, the publisher collects a payout for multiple impressions, or clicks if the ad is acted on. And, of course, it defrauds multiple advertisers with just that single click.

How ad stacking works

Ad stacking is a common fraud practice on mobile ads, but is seen on desktop browsers too, often on spoofed websites. The ad space is often an iframe on a website or in-app, which then displays the ad.

To the viewer, you’ll see nothing wrong; a banner ad or video ad.

But underneath this ad can be anything from two to ten more ads – depending on how brazen your fraudster is. 

It can also be used with other fraudulent practices like clickjacking or click spam, which is where active malware software can be used to click on these ads to force a click or impression. It’s also another way to claim credit for downloads of apps or software by referral, known as install misattribution fraud or organics poaching.

Avoiding fake clicks and impressions

Preventing fake clicks on your ads is becoming a more important part of digital marketing. Ad stacking is a relatively simple procedure for developers to perform, and can be an easy way to maximise income from display ads or installs.

Clicks on these ads are often generated by bots or malware within the app and/or browser. This can mean that clicks attributed to ad stacking will register on multiple ads at the same time. 

PPC managers and agencies running multiple ad campaigns may be able to spot the same device clicking on multiple ads at the same time. 

Due to the fact that ad stacking usually occurs with other click fraud practices, running anti-click fraud software will prevent most exposure.

If you’re running Google Ads, Microsoft (Bing) Ads or Facebook Ads, check out ClickCease for free today. Can you afford not to block the fraud?

Want to know more about click fraud and ad fraud? Check out our complete guide.