Media business visionary and columnist John Battelle once described click fraud as the deliberately malevolent, "decidedly black hat" practice of publishers hacking paid search advertising using robots or low-wage laborers to click on their ads over and over.
If this happens, it will imply that the advertiser would be forced to pay accordingly while the publisher would continue to profit from it falsely.
A disgrace to the digital marketing world, click fraud occurs via pay-per-click (PPC) on different websites. Because the owners that post the ads are paid based on how many site visitors click on the ads, they can generate a lot of profit by tricking the click system.
The thing is, a business must aim to quickly realize when click fraud is happening (and ideally, as soon as possible) so that their marketing budget isn't squandered. An advertising budget is essential because it helps create sales, which is eventually the end goal of all businesses.
If a company's marketing budget ends up getting wasted due to click fraud instead of reaching real potential clients, it can create quite a dent in the enterprise's finances.
Let’s see how you can avoid click fraud.
How to Spot Click Fraud
Whether you’re the owner of a website running ads or a competitor suspecting someone winning the market through click fraud, there are some ways you can spot it:
1. Repeated Clicks from Similar ISPS without Conversions:
For starters, if you see constant clicks from ISP servers that seem similar, chances are a website is conducting click fraud on your ad. Clicks should come from many different areas and servers depending on the viewers you’ve targeted. If this isn’t the case, then something might be up.
2. Spike in Costs Beyond Expectations:
Another way to spot click fraud is through surges in costs that don't make sense compared to previous ad campaigns or statistics.
So, for example, if you’ve been running ads for multiple months in a row and costs have been relatively consistent, a sudden or unexpected rise in costs could mean that someone has committed click fraud on one or more of your ads.
3. Lack of Real Conversions or Sales:
And finally, a lack of actual conversions despite increasing ad costs is another solid reason to suspect you might be the victim of click fraud. In other words, if you're paying lots of money to run ads, yet no customer ever comes to buy your product or service, something might be wrong.
That aside, you could also find providers that help prevent click fraud, but you can also take measures to avoid it yourself as a business.
How to Prevent Click Fraud
To prevent click fraud from happening to you, here are some measures you may take:
Take the help of specialized services that can automatically pick up on signs of click fraud, such as Sift. You may have to pay a small price for their services, but it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run if you’ve been a victim of click fraud!
Choose industry-specific keywords for your ads and apply a negative match (which would prevent your ad from being triggered by a specific word or phrase).
Regularly oversee user behavior and be wary of any unpredicted variables or a surge in costs that don’t add up. As a business, if you keep track of your customers and conversions, it would be tough to fool you when it comes to costs because you’d know exactly how much impact your promotion campaigns have.
Establish and stick to an advertising budget so that you may notice if there are any unexpected and improper fluctuations.
Overall, click fraud can be quite a nuisance, unfortunately, it is a reality of our digital marketing world. And as a business owner or digital marketer, you should always be wary of such things happening to your well-placed ads.