Click Fraud is said to be one of the biggest threats to PPC advertisers today, yet the general awareness on the subject is still limited. It’s estimated that fraudulent clicks on online adverts are costing companies around the world billions of pounds collectively, with fraudsters themselves becoming increasingly savvy in their techniques to line their pockets. For PPC advertisers, the subject can be a scary one. You may be wondering what these techniques are? You may also be curious as to what is being done to protect PPC advertisers like yourselves? This article explores the dark side of the industry in more detail, looking for the much-needed answers to our click fraud questions.
What is Click Fraud?
Before we take a deeper look, it is good to remind ourselves of what click fraud means. In its simplest form, click fraud can be defined as the practice of a user maliciously clicking on an ad to register a click that is not within the Ads targeted outcome. Very often, the reason for these clicks can be for personal gain. It was recently reported that 1 in 5 clicks are fraudulent, which has understandably left advertisers anxious when investing their hard earned budgets into PPC platforms.
So, who are the fraudsters? Well usually there are 3 main suspects:
Manual Clicks from Competitors
Naturally, business advertising is competitive. With competition often comes the need to win at all costs. Unfortunately, the need to win customers can lead to illegal PPC activity, with businesses deliberately repeating to click on ads in order to drive up the competition’s advertising expenditure. For some small businesses this can mean their daily budget is met or exceeded very early on in the day. Within certain industries, the cost per click (CPC) reaches as high as £30, so as you can imagine this is costing some businesses thousands of pounds.
If you are worried that a competitor may be clicking your ads to drive up your advertising costs then do not worry, you are not alone. Here at Keel Over this is often a concern from our clients. Thankfully there are solutions to this problem, which we will look at later in this article.
Manual Clicks for Website Owners Who Host Ads
This a type of click fraud commonly seen on the Google Display Network (GDN). The GDN is predominantly made up of third-party websites that run ads – the owners of these sites are usually referred to as webmasters. Webmasters are paid 68% of the cost per click from an ad on their website, so if they click their own ads hundreds of times, they can make a tidy profit. Often webmasters will recruit associates to do the clicking for them, and therefore increasing their return.
Clicks from Automated Tools, Click Farms, Robots and More.
There are programs out there that can simulate genuine clicks, and quite often this will be thousands of clicks and views at a time. These programmes have the same motives as the Webmasters; however, their fraud is far more sophisticated. One criminal organisation is reportedly making 3 -5 million pounds per day. Do not panic however, these operations are primarily targeting views on video ads, so if you are using PPC ads then this is unlikely to affect you. Additionally, Google have their own processes to combat the fraud, which we will now discuss in more detail.
What’s Being Done to Combat Click Fraud?
After reading this blog so far you’ve probably been put off using PPC advertising for life, thankfully, this doesn’t need to be the case. There are numerous tools and processes in place to minimise click fraud. Google itself has an Ad Traffic Quality Centre, where it has three separate processes that are designed to block fraudulent activity.
The first level is the automated detection system. This system uses Google’s advanced algorithms and machine learning to protect its advertisers. The automated filter is so advanced it has been proven to detect invalid clicks before the advertiser is even charged. Unfortunately, the filters still can’t detect every fraudulent click, however, Google claims they are becoming smarter over time.
The second level is the manual review. Any suspicious activity Google detects, or any concerns raised from advertisers, will be investigated thoroughly by the Google team. The said team will then decide on resolving the issue. Here at Keel Over we monitor the number of invalid clicks closely, and we will report any suspicious activity we see on our accounts straight to Google – that way we can give our clients peace of mind.
Finally, the Ad Quality team will use advanced research to detect any clicks that have come from non-human sources. The team will use their sophisticated techniques to find abnormal trends in the data, thus uncovering all the traffic that is coming from one source. Once it has been detected it can be blocked from entering Google’s systems in the future, and therefore protecting advertisers from the automated programmes that we discussed earlier in the article.
What Can We Do For You?
So, there we have it – hopefully you are now more aware of the different types of click fraud, and what Google does to minimise the impact. If you are worried your account is suffering as a result of click fraud please feel free to get in touch, the team here at Keel Over Marketing will be more than willing to review your account for you.