What is Click Fraud?

If you are not sure exactly what click fraud is, let’s take a look at the dictionary definition:

The practice of repeatedly clicking on an advertisement hosted on a website with the intention of generating revenue for the host website or draining revenue from the advertiser.

If you use PPC campaigns to boost your leads, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your paid search costs looking higher than they should be?
  • How about your performance data – does it show anomalies that you can’t fathom?

 

If so, you may be affected by click fraud! If your PPC costs are sky high with many ‘clicks’ coming from the same ISP with no conversions, you need to take preventative and protective action.

Many Google AdWords advertisers suffer in this way and with research showing that click fraud doubled between the years of 2016 and 2017, $16.7 billion was lost

What is Click Fraud?

Why Do People Commit Click Fraud?

You must be thinking that there is no good reason for this as what can the perpetrator possibly be gaining?  But think again; your direct competitor could be your biggest enemy, particularly if they see that you are ranking high in sponsored listings on the net.  By clicking on your ads, they can easily drive up your costs, hoping that this will drive you away so they can take your place.

Some business owners make the mistake of clicking on their own website ads in order to boost ratings and even your own customers may access your site by clicking on your paid ad, rather than bookmarking it.

The problem is that no matter whether click fraud is deliberate or accidental, it can still result in costly damage. How easily you detect the click fraud will depend upon whether it is carried out manually or by using automated software with the latter being somewhat easier to pick up as it will usually come from the same ISP address.  Manual click fraud is always harder to deal with, particularly if it occurs unintentionally.

Can Google Help to Prevent Click Fraud?

Yes, Google can help a little and do this by making use of:

  1. Automatic filters which remove invalid clicks as they occur; they will not show on your report nor will you be charged.
  2. Proactive analysis – their team will detect any unusual fluctuations or glitches and credit your account.
  3. Your own analysis – if you think something is wrong, you can query it yourself with Google using their online form.

 

This third option should not be overlooked as by monitoring clicks in-house, you are not only protecting your business but also potentially saving a lot of money.

There are many ways of doing this and one of the easiest is to make use of specialist software to track and trace all metrics, such as the one provided by Click Guardian.

Is Click Fraud Really a Big Problem?

Recent Click Fraud Statistics

2016 - $7.2 Billion
2017 - $16.7 Billion
2018 - Estimated $27.2+ Billion

Statistics show that click fraud is a very real problem and not every click is genuine.  A simple search of Google about click fraud will produce claims of up to 50% of web traffic is fake.  There have been a few high profile cases where Google have settled for huge sums up to $90m, but the hard hit smaller advertisers are the ones who pay for click fraud with their relative small budgets meaning that their ads show less frequently coupled with higher bills.

Despite the search engine giant having invalid click filters in place, claiming to filter out fraudulent activity, many advertisers are finding that these filters are being circumvented by underhand tactics.  Advertisers are turning to 3rd party solutions to monitor for click fraud and proactively block IP addresses of imposters.

Demotivating and Frustrating!

Click fraud not only costs business money but maybe worse, it can provide them with inaccurate results when they conduct analysis of PPC campaigns using historical data; many companies make use of this to make critical marketing decisions, often basing forward campaigns on current ones.  If your reports show that your last Pay per Click campaign was extremely productive with a large amount of clicks, you might believe that it accounted for a high percentage of your sales.  But what if the keyword used was subject to click fraud and you are totally in the dark with regard to this? Once you do detect it, your realise that the click-through rate was high but the conversions low, and you might make a decision to not run the campaign any more.  You have still been charged for every click through so will likely find that the cost of the PPC campaign obliterated any profit you made.  But this was not the fault of the campaign and was instead due to click fraud.

You can deal with this in a much more proactive way by putting in place protective software that will monitor the keyword closely; you will be alerted to changes and the fact that something dodgy is going on with that advert.  Statistics may even show that clicks are coming from the same IP address in a country you don’t even deal with.  You are then in a strong position to take action immediately, stopping the click fraudster in their tracks.

Dealing Proactively With Click Fraud

Going forward, there may come a time when PPC dies a death and instead is replaced by a pay per conversion system with the advertiser paying only when a click converts.  The issue with this is that search engine networks such as Google will lose mass revenue so they are unlikely to be in favour of this.

Until that time or until something better comes along, you will be happy to know that companies that think they may be affected can track and analyse statistics, thereby detecting click fraud and preventing it in the future.  You can do this by making use of a Click Fraud Detection & Protection service like the one provided by Click Guardian.  The UK’s number one click fraud solution works by inserting tracking code into your website alongside your AdWords Customer ID.  Detection takes place in real-time and is active 24/7 on both desktop and mobile systems.

If you are a business that regularly makes use of PPC campaigns using Google AdWords, then you cannot afford to sit back complacently and just hope that you will not be targeted by click fraud, either accidentally or on purpose.   By not taking action you literally are leaving the floodgates wide open and your business and bank account exposed to big losses, both in terms of lost sales and profits.

Want to protect your PPC?  Sign up for a free 14 day trial of Click Guardian Pro now, it’s easy to setup and you’ll start saving money today!