Advent Trinity Marketing Agency is a huge advocate of PPC advertising. One problem you may experience with this type of advertising is click fraud. Let’s take a look at what click fraud is and how to solve the problem.
Our partners at HubSpot say click fraud happens when a person or a bot clicks on an ad, button, or hyperlink to trick the platform into thinking there is more interaction than there actually is.
With PPC advertising, click fraud can happen for one of two reasons:
Interestingly enough, sometimes it’s the business itself that will engage in click fraud. Search engines like Google rely on the click-through rate – how many people have visited a site because of a certain link – to determine search rankings. Sometimes, a business owner will attempt to scam the system, inflating the number of clicks through click fraud and moving up the search engine ranks so that more actual users will find and visit their page.
Any type of click fraud can be damaging to a business which is why you’ll want to protect yourself against this illegal practice.
It’s estimated that bots comprise roughly 52% of all internet traffic, according to HubSpot. Harmful bots (like fraud bots) make up a large part of this number.
Click bots are designed to carry out click fraud. They vary from relatively simple (access webpage and click on the desired link) to advanced (mimic the actions a human would take such as moving the mouse and clicking at uneven intervals). The more advanced a bot is, the more difficult it is to distinguish it from a legitimate user.
Rather than attempt to create hundreds of thousands of clicks from one device with a single IP address (this bot traffic would be immediately suspicious), bots are installed across many devices, often through malware. This means that the device owner is completely unaware that their electronic property is being used for nefarious purposes.
Bots aren’t always to blame for click fraud. Some scammers will employ people to manually perform click fraud. While it’s more difficult to recognize human fraud, it’s considerably less efficient than utilizing fraud bots.
Instances of click fraud are not uncommon. A recent study from the University of Baltimore found that in 2020 click fraud cost marketers over $35 billion.
Search engines like Google have put practices in place to protect businesses from click fraud. These include:
Knowing that Google is looking out for your business is great news, though it’s still important to be proactive to protect your business. The first step is creating ads that are more difficult for scammers to target. You can consider allocating more budget to social media ads that are less keyword-focused and therefore harder to search for.
You also have the option to be more targeted with your desired audience which will lessen your chances of encountering click fraud. Being more specific about the geographic locations your ads target and avoid can also provide an added layer of protection from click fraud.
Next, you can help prevent click fraud by keeping a close eye on your ads and your ad spend. The moment you suspect fraud, it’s time to jump into action. If you’ve detected fraudulent clicks coming from specific IP addresses, Google Ads will allow you to block these IP addresses.
At ATMA, we do everything in our power to prevent click fraud on your PPC ads. We constantly monitor them and block those abusing your ad. One of the ways we detect is by using ClickCease.
ClickCease blocks bot traffic from Google and Facebook ads before these clicks can impact your ad spend budget. Users can also create custom detection rules to provide the level of support their business needs.
If you are monitoring your ads yourself, you can use a program like ClickCease or others to help block abusers.
Unfortunately, click fraud poses a significant risk to your PPC advertising initiatives. While it has the potential to deplete your budget and leave you short of your marketing goals, it is still a feasible alternative for your organization with the proper safeguards in place. Investing in education and services to combat click fraud is a wise investment, or ATMA can do it for you!
Click fraud can significantly impact the effectiveness of paid search campaigns, particularly pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Click fraud refers to the practice of artificially inflating the number of clicks on an ad, which can result in a reduced return on ad spend and a wasted ad budget. This can occur through various means, including bots, click farms, and competitors clicking on ads to deplete a competitor’s ad budget.
Ad fraud can also negatively impact the quality of data used to make decisions about ad campaigns, such as when analyzing performance metrics like click-through rates or conversion rates. To combat click fraud, advertisers must be vigilant in monitoring their campaigns, regularly auditing their ad campaigns, optimizing landing pages, and targeting the right audience. By implementing these strategies, advertisers can ensure that their ad campaigns remain cost-effective and that their search ads are appearing on the top of the search engine result page (SERP) to the right target audience.