Widespread Fraud in Google Search Ads Affects Major Brands

A large number of big brands in the US and UK, or 75% to be exact, are facing identity theft issues in Google Search Ads. A report by Marcode, a company that focuses on search marketing security, highlights this problem. These scams not only cause financial loss to the companies but also trick customers into fraud.

The way this scam works is pretty simple. Scammers create ads that look just like the real brand's ads, using similar names and designs. They then pay for these fake ads to appear when people search for the actual brands. This causes a problem because Google usually shows only one ad per search, so the real brand's ad gets left out.

Many brands don't even realize they're victims of this fraud. This is mainly because Google's own reporting tools don't always catch these scams.

This kind of fraud can seriously harm a brand's reputation. Customers might be scared to buy from them, fearing they'll be cheated. Also, if a brand relies a lot on Google Ads for business, these scams can reduce the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

The scammers often create fake websites that look like games or contests. They promise vouchers for the real stores, but it's all fake.

The study also found that affiliate hijacking is a big issue. In this, scammers redirect users to the brand's real website but with a special code. When a sale happens, the scammer gets paid a commission. This was seen in about 75% of the brands studied.

Some of the big names that fell victim to these scams include Amazon, American Airlines, Lego, Pizza Hut, and Samsung. The study over three months showed that 90 out of 120 brands had their ads hijacked. Persistent phishing scams were found in 20 brands.

Google responded by saying they are always working to stop these bad actors and protect advertisers. They mentioned that in 2022, they removed billions of bad ads and suspended millions of advertiser accounts. Google is also reviewing the claims made in the report and will act as needed.

Image: AI-gen

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