Whether you just started advertising online a few months ago, or have been at it for the past two decades, you’ve most likely experienced click fraud at some point or another. Click fraud is the catch-all term used to describe fraudulent clicking activity on PPC platforms.
While you might not think that something like click fraud is common, it’s actually incredibly prevalent across all PPC platforms (resulting in millions upon millions in financial losses for advertisers and publishers). The PPC industry is worth a few billion dollars, which means that fraudsters are always looking for new ways to steal money from advertisers (or destroy their ad budgets by driving up the cost of ads).
The financial fallout from click fraud is actually greater than the value of the entire industry. Fraudulent clicks waste ad budgets and cost publishers money (to the tune of over twenty billion dollars). Needless to say, click fraud is a very serious problem (and unfortunately one that won’t be disappearing anytime soon).
If you’re looking for ways to protect your PPC campaigns from fraud, you’ve found the right blog. Below we go over all of the very best ways to protect your PPC campaign(s) from click fraud. Software services, analysis strategies, IP blocking, and more are all covered in the following sections.
The Types of Click Fraud
Generally speaking, there are three different ways in which a PPC campaign can fall victim to fraud:
- Clicks performed by a person to increase the advertiser’s ad spend (i.e. the CPC – cost-per-click)
- Click done by an actual human to artificially inflate the publisher’s revenue
- Automated clicks done for either of the above reasons
Out of all three types, automated click fraud can be some of the most challenging to detect. This is because the programmers that create the software used in these attacks are highly skilled. The programs that these developers build for fraudsters are capable of performing very advanced forms of click fraud. Some of them even build botnets that infect tens of thousands of computers (for the purpose of making money).
Luckily, there are certain ways that businesses can detect and prevent click fraud. Whether that’s using special software (an example being the Clickcease service), or by manually reviewing all of their campaign data for fraudulent activity, it’s definitely possible to come out on the winning side of click fraud. Below we get into some of the primary ways that a business can properly defend their campaigns from fraud.
Click Fraud Prevention Techniques and Strategies
Click fraud is something that most business owners don’t even realize exists, however it’s quite real (and causes billions in losses every single year). Detecting click fraud doesn’t have to be difficult, though, mainly because there are countless automation tools available to perform most administration work for you.
Software such as ClickCease is able to automatically detect, filter, and stop fraud in its track. This could also be done manually, however, most businesses don’t have the resources to devote all of their time to click fraud detection (even Google and Facebook have a tough time dealing with fraud).
One of the most basic methods of spotting click fraud is through taking a look at the IP addresses of clicks on your ads. If you notice one certain IP address that’s clicking at an unusually high rate, it’s most likely some type of fraud taking place. Another metric to watch out for is high bounce rates. If a certain set of visitors are clicking your ads, but then bouncing (at a very high percentage), then that’s a possible indicator of fraud.
Most PPC platforms have very robust tools that allow you to block IP addresses based on certain activities. This type of strategy effectively eliminates a large majority of manual click fraud (that originates from one IP address). But, automated click fraud can be a bit more of a challenge to deal with (which is where using third-party applications comes in handy – especially for larger businesses running a lot of ads).
One of the most important aspects in regards to click fraud detection and prevention is choosing to be proactive in detecting fraudulent activity on your ads. Prevention takes a constant analysis of campaign performance, IP activity, CTRs, etc. This is why most companies choose to go for an automated solution (which allows them more time for doing things that are more operationally important to them – i.e. running their business).
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