How to Understand and Prevent Click Fraud?
Artificial clicks are preventable
When it comes to paid advertising, one of the most common forms of promotion lies in PPC ads. With PPC ads, companies create an ad and then pay based on the number of clicks the ad receives. These types of ads can appear on a variety of different platforms, particularly search engines, where they can be displayed at the top of the search results. Brands appreciate the power of PPC marketing to help get their brand’s content to the top of the SERP, even if they struggled to get their organic content to rank that highly.
However, sometimes these ads can be susceptible to a type of fraud known as click fraud. With click fraud, artificial clicks are generated for a particular ad, so that the brand has to pay for the click without receiving the opportunity to genuinely engage with a potential customer. Those who engage in click fraud might do it for several different reasons.
- They might want to waste a competitor’s budget to force them to spend money unnecessarily.
- Many campains set daily maximums, which indicate the most the organization should pay per day. Therefore, clicking on the ad incessantly at the start of the day can run out the daily budget much faster, leaving more open room for competitors to move in to promote their own ad.
- It can even be the result of a disgruntled customer who wants to force the company that they feel ‘wronged’ by to spend unnecessary money.
- Sometimes, unscrupulous ad publishers will also click on the ads that appear on their site to generate more income for themselves.
Whatever the reason may be, uncovering and preventing click fraud can help brands save money and avoid gathering irrelevant data from their PPC campaigns.
Fighting back against click fraud
Many major search engines, including Google, have taken steps to try and sort out click fraud to avoid charging brands for clicks that were not genuine.
Google’s anti-click fraud system works to sort through clicks and uncover potential false clicks before the ad owner gets charged. The search engine giant also conducts manual reviews of clicks to further verify that the clicks occurring on ads come from true searchers.
Finally, Google will also receive a particular case if you gather evidence that specific clicks arrived through an ad to your site through a fraudulent means.
What can brands do to reduce their click fraud problem?
To personally look after the clicks your own website receives through PPC does require a bit of research. To track this information, you will need the IP addresses of the visitors who come to your site.
You can use this data to look for repeat visitors that might have suspicious origins. Depending upon the platform where you host your ads, you might be able to secure information regarding the time when that particular IP address clicked on your ad as well as the time when they completed an action on your website. High levels of ad clicks from a certain IP address with low levels of action may indicate click fraud.
If you find your brand has been hit with high levels of click fraud, you can try to use social media to reduce the problem. PPC ads on the social channels, which target ads based on demographics rather than keyword searches, can make it harder for competitors to find the ads and can offer a bit more protection.
Additionally, if the fraudulent IP addresses tend to come from certain areas, such as particular countries where you do not do a lot of business, you can also consider blocking those regions from your ad targeting.
Finally, if you uncover specific IP addresses that are guilty of click fraud, you can also block those addresses specifically on many PPC platforms.
Click fraud makes it harder for brands to accurately engage with their targeted audience. It can result in a waste of money and drained marketing budgets. Understanding what the search engines do to combat this problem, as well as what marketers themselves can do to protect their websites, can help combat this problem.