How to Recognise Fraud in Affiliate Programs: Benefits of Security Software

Online casino Marketing Security
Updated 07 september 2022

Referral marketing is a popular way to promote iGaming projects, improve their image indicators, and increase profitability. However, the actions of fraudsters may lead to unreasonable advertising costs without a tangible effect for the business.

Online casino marketing: affiliate fraud

The Online Casino Market company offers you to learn about the types of fraud in affiliate programs and methods of dealing with them.

What Is Affiliate Marketing

This is a popular way to promote a gaming portal on the Web. The operator (advertiser) delegates the popularisation task to a partner — a private webmaster or an affiliated company.

For their work, publishers (partners who provide traffic) receive a reward, the amount of which is prescribed in advance in the offer (cooperation agreement). The customer’s benefit is the growth of internet traffic, as well as an increase in the rentability of an iGaming project and the level of income.

There is another important link in the “operator-partner” chain: the referral network. This is a special platform with hundreds of contracts, flexible terms of interaction for advertisers and performers, and end-to-end control tools.

Advantages of Promotion with the Help of Partners

Let us consider the main advantages of affiliate marketing:

High efficiency

An advertising customer pays the contractor only when a certain result is achieved. It includes the given volumes of internet traffic, the number of attracted leads and registrations in online casinos, and other tasks.

The scheme is simple: no measurable result (increase in conversion or profitability), no payment

End-to-end control

In gambling, there are one-time and long-term contracts — entrepreneurs can monitor their execution in real-time.

Operators are provided with professional trackers, analytical reports, and other tools

Democratic Price

The creation of an offer takes a minimum of time, especially if you use the tips of reliable affiliate programs. In general, the results of the promotion depend on the skill of a contractor but customers pay only for the final result anyway.

The partner bears all advertising costs (the banner’s layout, placement of links on thematic portals, interaction with influencers) related to the promotion process

How Affiliates Are Rewarded for Their Work

There are 3 payment models which are the most common in the gambling niche:

  1. CPA method. Remuneration for the target action — the number of views, clicks, transitions to the site, registrations, and deposits. Online casino owners are interested in knowing the number of new users who have left their contact details, passed the verification procedure, and made personal deposits.
  2. RevShare approach. The partner receives a percentage of the operator's income, which the iGaming platform has earned during affiliate promotion. The RevShare model is typical for long-term contracts. The publisher needs to create a marketing strategy several months in advance in order to receive a decent reward.
  3. Mixed scheme. It contains CPA and RevShare elements. The solution is most beneficial for operators since it takes into account all their interests.

What Determines the Success of Marketing

The main factors affecting the effectiveness of promotion:

Correctly chosen strategy

The advertiser has to solve several questions:

  • whether to cooperate with only 1 partner or choose a specialised company;
  • whether to use an affiliated network and if so, which one.

An important role is played by a well-written offer with transparent terms of cooperation, desired results related to conversion and profitability, and protection of the advertiser's interests

Recognition of an iGaming brand

It is easier for popular online casinos to develop affiliate channels and get a decent income in the short term.

Gamblers are happy to register on websites with a good reputation and treat new companies with caution

Minimisation of the risk of fraud

In the gambling industry, there is a possibility of encountering dishonest executors. Their work will not bring tangible benefits to operators but incur image and monetary losses

Fraud in the Field of Casino Affiliate Promotion

Casino affiliate promotion: types of fraud

Levon Nikogosyan, CEO of PartnerMatrix, noted:

Scams in the iGaming industry are more common than in other online affiliate marketing verticals. Sometimes, because of one fraudster, losses may exceed 100 000 dollars.

Mr Nikogosyan's opinion is confirmed by the huge number of complaints on the AskGamblers international portal. More than half of the negative feedback is related to dishonest webmasters.

The industry even has its concept of “fraud” — deception by the referral person. Affiliates show an advertiser a flow of pseudo-applications and installations, steal leads from other contractors, and commit other illegal actions.

Schemes Used by Scammers in CPA Marketing

CPA promotion is an area where the risk of fraud is quite high.

According to this payment model, affiliates are rewarded for the arbitration of internet traffic, so the quality of referred customers often goes by the wayside. For operators, in turn, such traffic is not profitable at all since it does not contribute to monetisation.

Let us consider the most common types of fraud:

  1. The use of “axle boxes”. These are online exchanges where affiliates post tasks with a minimum payment. For example, you need to follow the link to the slot machine and replenish the user account by 1 ruble. Players perform the specified actions, and partners share a part of the profit with them. Operators are the only losing side. They expect to get high-quality traffic, not random visitors to their gaming sites.
  2. “Mimicry” for the advertiser. Affiliates copy casino platforms or profile pages on social networks (Instagram, VKontakte) and arbitrage traffic through them. The scheme does not bring real income to the client but only imitates user activity.
  3. Cookie stuffing. Fraudsters replace the cookies of respectable webmasters with the ones that were created by them. As a result, leads are stolen (potential users who are ready to make deposits and play in the casino). Cookie stuffing can be implemented through unauthorised access to iFrame tags (parts of an HTML5 code) and Toolbar (a bookmarks bar in the browser), as well as link redirecting and changing public Wi-Fi network settings.
  4. Use of bot programs. Some bots can perform only the most basic tasks, such as clicking on an advertising banner or registering on a website. Others, however, can imitate the actions of a real person, up to the rotation of the reels in a slot machine.

Features of Working under the RevShare Scheme

This type of cooperation is considered to be safer for operators. Publishers may not make a profit for several months until the gamblers they have attracted to the platform begin to play casino games regularly.

Commissions of affiliates are calculated as a percentage of GGR (the sum of gamblers' losses minus their winnings).

There are also several exceptions when a partner receives income from the turnover, the size of bets, the deposit made, etc. This scheme seems more attractive to fraudsters. They imitate traffic growth and replenishment of personal accounts (with the help of bots or “axle boxes”), take a percentage for the first month, and disappear.

In the future, “fake” gamblers are unlikely to play in the casino, which means that entrepreneurs will not receive the expected profit.

In the RevShare model, a “shave” is rather widespread: fraud on the part of an affiliate network or advertiser. Dishonest operators reduce the size of GGR so that the publisher receives a more modest compensation.

The decline in real income can be fabricated in several ways:

  • removal of a gambler from an affiliate account;
  • addition of fictitious costs to the income to reduce the calculation base;
  • rejection of withdrawal of affiliate commissions concerning fake prerequisites;
  • use of the redirect (a software script that transfers some of the clients to another partner);
  • provision of false information about real numbers.

Independent Control over the Actions of Publishers

It is possible to detect low-quality traffic using a detailed analysis of reports in Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrica.

Let us consider the procedure using the example of Google Analytics tools.

Creation of a Composite Report

The formation of detailed analytics can be done in the business cabinet:

  1. In the “Traffic sources” section, it is necessary to select “All internet traffic” and set filters for different CPA channels.
  2. In the “Advanced options” tab, check the “Ads content” box, which will highlight the ID addresses of specific affiliates.
  3. You need to select the number of sessions based on which the report will be generated. Google Analytics offers a range of 30–100%. Operators are interested in 100% coverage because it provides the most complete picture.
  4. The finished table must be exported to Excel. The next step is to set filters for each column. They will show the number of visits to the website, the amount and size of transactions, the duration of the game session, and other parameters.
  5. For each column, it is important to set the ranges of relevant values, for example, the duration of the session is 3 minutes or more. Anything larger will be highlighted in green and anything smaller — in red.

Analysis of the Results

The filtered table gives clear information on the work of each affiliate. The more red cells a partner has, for example, in terms of the size of transactions, the more suspicious his actions are.

The data can be presented in the form of graphs or charts to compare the results of the work of different publishers.

Markers that should alert the advertiser:

  • less than 5% of new sessions for previously attracted gamblers;
  • more than 50% of refusals (users visited the casino platform but did not take the desired action — they did not register or make the first deposit);
  • the duration of the session (in slots, card games, and poker) is less than 50 seconds;
  • suspicious amounts of money transfers — either too small (for example, 50 people deposited 1 ruble each) or too large.

To conduct a qualitative analysis, operators need to have a good understanding of the average indicators in the industry and their iGaming projects. Otherwise, the risk of filtering out respectable specialists who do their job well increases.

Advantages of Affiliate Programs and Security Software

Casino security software: advantages

Let us consider the possibilities of specialised anti-fraud services.

Reliable Affiliate Networks

Modern referral programs provide advanced analytics on key metrics of interaction with webmasters. In just a few clicks, entrepreneurs can create a multi-level report that compares the actions of partners, identifying low-quality traffic and fraud.

Online Casino Market offers gambling site owners to connect the following popular affiliate programs:

  1. NetRefer. The supplier's arsenal consists of analytical tools designed specifically for the needs of betting shops, trading options, Forex market, and internet casinos. The proprietary Performance Marketing platform provides a 360-degree view of publishers' activities. This makes it easy to identify unscrupulous partners and protect the business against unreasonable advertising costs.
  2. Post Affiliate Pro. The product has an anti-fraud module for instant detection of dangerous activities, such as traffic cheating or the use of bots and “boosters”. The solution has a user-friendly interface and multi-level reporting. The Forced Matrix service is used to control the work of sub-partners.
  3. DirectTrack. The Digital River premium system includes a risk management module. It automatically blocks “black” traffic and informs the advertiser about it. Any fraudulent distribution of bonuses for the registration and payment of high commissions under the RevShare scheme is also impossible.

Casino Security Software

The advantage of protection programs is that they work comprehensively, safeguarding the gaming site on all fronts.

The Online Casino Market studio offers operators to order software from such certified vendors:

  1. TransUnion Company (iovation). The SureScore artificial neural network monitors transactions and behaviour patterns to predict the actions of scammers. The system detects fraud on the part of partners, violation of promotion programs, as well as the theft of bonuses, their abuse, and other illegal activities.
  2. Featurespace. The brand has created a universal module for efficient management of affiliate networks. The tasks of the service include the identification of new accounts, the control of reserves and payments (using CPA and RevShare methods), and the creation of a single database of partners and current payment processes.
  3. Accertify. The American manufacturer has spent a lot of time successfully fighting bots, advertisement abuse, as well as unauthorised access and theft of user data. The program detects atypical online traffic and illegal accounts using multi-level machine algorithms.

The Main Things about the Methods of Combating Fraud on the Part of Affiliates

Operators often face the illegal actions of partners, which is fraught with the loss of customers and unreasonable increases in advertising costs.

  • Fraud is more common in CPA marketing where affiliates get paid for a targeted action — users should follow a link, register on a gaming site, or make a deposit. Dishonest publishers use forbidden tricks to boost traffic, for example, bot and “axle box” programs, as well as cookie stuffing.
  • In the RevShare model, some partners attract pseudo-gamblers who replenish personal accounts with minimal amounts of money and then disappear. As a result, the advertiser receives less profit.
  • The installation of reliable affiliate services and security software is an effective method of dealing with intruders. Profile programs detect behavioural anomalies, “black” traffic, the theft of bonuses, and other illegal activities.

From the Online Casino Market aggregator company, you can buy professional software from NetRefer, Post Affiliate Pro, DirectTrack, TransUnion Company (iovation), Accertify, and other prestigious vendors.

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Karen Fill


Karen Fill

Gambling business expert at Online Casino Market

Updated 07 september 2022