Click fraud is the scourge of the PPC marketing world and if you have ever been a victim of it, you know how troublesome it can be. Click fraud is where a person, script or computer will act like an actual person clicking on an ad, only the entity doing the clicking isn’t the least bit interested in the service or product the ad happens to be promoting. Click fraud is illegal and it can get your PPC account banned; not to mention that it can quickly drain your marketing budget. In most cases, the click fraud originator is a competitor trying to push you out of the market. Whatever the reasons, however, the following will help you detect and prevent click fraud so that you don’t fall prey to this ever growing online scam.
The State of Click Fraud Today
Spider.io is a company in the UK that measures web traffic across the Internet and the following statistics recently released by the company as they relate to click fraud may surprise you. According to the company, many people are under the false assumption that click fraud as a problem has largely gone away. This is false, according to Spider, which said that a botnet code named Chameleon is currently costing display advertisers $6 million or more every month.
The company also stated that 17%-29% of all clicks on paid ads are fraudulent. That is a staggering number considering how many ads there are and how many clicks those ads must generate each and every day.
The History of Click Fraud
Click fraud is not a new phenomenon. It has existed pretty much since the day paid advertising hit the Internet. People will always try to find a way to scam or cheat a system and the paid online advertising model is no different.
The problem has increased every year since the first click fraud case and now the problem is well into the billions annually. Google reported that, by the mid 2000s, it was losing over $1 billion per year to click fraud every year.
The problem of click fraud may never go away, but there are systems in place to fight it. Webmasters and online advertisers can implement specially-designed software to combat the problem, and many of today’s top PPC advertisers, such as Google Adwords, have constantly updated tools designed to eradicate the problem or at least cut down on it drastically.
To see this in action, view your latest Adwords numbers. The numbers you are actually seeing, the amounts of impressions, are typically lower than they are in real life. This is because the platform has already filtered out the click fraud totals before the numbers have a chance to reach your dashboard. This is a good chance to mention that you can keep yourself from being harmed by pesky click fraud by choosing a reputable PPC advertiser, such as Adwords; though there are many other reputable ones out there.
How To Keep An Eye On Click Fraud
Click fraud monitoring is the act of keeping a close eye on your PPC analytics in the hopes of catching and preventing click fraud. When you sign up for a PPC account through Google Adwords or competitor, you will be given access to an analytics platform that will show you how many clicks you are generating, what times of day/week/month those clicks are coming in and where they are essentially coming from.
The thing is, it can be very difficult to detect click fraud, especially if you happen to publish popular ads. As the numbers come rolling in, how are you supposed to differentiate between a scammer and someone who is merely interested in your products and services?
The proper way to conduct click fraud monitoring is to look for any ads that are receiving an unusual amount of clicks from the same geographical area; but what if the bots or scripts are designed to appear as though they are originating from different areas? You probably don’t have to be told that scammers can be very crafty.
The following will not only help you detect click fraud, but you can also prevent click fraud by going through the necessary preparation steps.
Stay Away From False PPC Promises
Some companies will promise to earn you a certain amount of clicks by a certain amount of time. Do not fall for these scams. These are just click fraud companies cleverly disguised as legitimate marketing firms. Go about things the old fashioned way and you will save yourself a load of headaches, time and wasted money.
Click Tracking Software And/Or Plugins
Another way to go about click fraud monitoring, detection and prevention is to enlist the help of the special click fraud software that we mentioned earlier. These programs will keep errant clickers at bay. While the software won’t stop the click fraud from occurring, it can log it and provide you with proof that the scam is ongoing. This can be used to get credits and refunds from Google and any other search engines you happen to be working with. It is one thing to go to the search engines claiming that the click fraud wasn’t your doing, but it’s another thing entirely to go to them with detailed reports that show when, where and how the clicks occurred.
There are plugins that will prevent click fraud, as well, and they can be used in conjunction with software as an extra layer of defense. When you have the plugin installed and activated, your ads will quickly disappear from a person’s search engine results pages whenever they happen to click on your ads more than once. Whether it’s a person, script or computer, the plugin will limit your ad exposure for you, thus stopping click fraud in its tracks.
Detect Click Fraud Before The PPC Provider Does
No matter who you happen to be advertising with – Google, Yahoo or any other PPC network – make sure you are engaging in active click fraud monitoring on a regular basis. You will want to be the one to catch any clickers as they try to wreak havoc on your PPC account. If the search engine, such as Google, happens to detect click fraud before you do, you face your account being suspended or banned entirely. You can also have all your money taken away and you won’t be able to do a thing about it after the fact (unless you have proof that the click fraud actually happened).
While this happens to be one of the dangers of using PPC marketing to advertise your products and services, you should know that the practice of click fraud is fairly rare. And again, you can do your part to prevent click fraud by choosing a reputable advertising network to begin with. Still, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry, so do your best to detect and prevent click fraud so that you can advertise unhindered without having to worry about losing your account altogether.