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The Growing Problem of Click Fraud

Pay Per Click | by Neil Andrew

If you’ve been in the digital marketing industry for a while, then you’ve probably used pay per click advertising at some point. For those that haven’t, PPC is an excellent way to get instant high-quality visitors to a website. By bidding on certain keywords, webmasters and businesses pay search engines per click for every user they redirect to their website.

Although pay per click advertising has been around for a long time and is nothing new, there has recently been a growing problem for advertisers known as click fraud. These 2 words alone will strike fear into even the most experienced PPC advertisers and managers. No matter who you are or how big your company is, no one is immune to the dreaded click fraud. With click fraud on the rise, it’s time we explored what exactly click fraud is and how it could be damaging your PPC campaigns and your businesses profits. So what exactly is click fraud and what’s all the fuss about?

What Exactly is Click Fraud?

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Click fraud is a technique used by PPC competitors and ad publishers to falsely inflate the number of clicks on a pay per click advert. This means they click an advert on purpose when they have no intention of ever visiting the website. Now you might be wondering: Why on earth would somebody do that? It might sound unethical and strange to click someone’s ads for no reason, but there is reasoning behind the strategy.

How and Why Click Fraud Occurs

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As mentioned above, click fraud is usually done by competitors who are competing for the same PPC keyword as you. After all, why would you click your own ads and waste your own money? By clicking on competitors ads you force them to pay for the click. Although in reality, you have zero intention of ever buying their product or service. This means your competitor literally wastes valuable money on false clicks.

Not only does this deplete their PPC campaign budget, but it also increases their average conversion cost. Both of these are significant problems. Like you may very well know, a lot of PPC campaigns will have a daily budget. Once the daily budget has been depleted the campaign is disabled until the next day. By clicking competitor’s ads, this makes the daily campaign budget disappear much faster.

Once the campaign is disabled, your competitor will most likely take your advertising slot for the same keyword. They’ll also probably end up paying less per click! As you can see there is a huge incentive for competitors to click other competitor’s ads. However, it’s not just PPC competitors who are participating in click fraud. Some website owners are also to blame.

One of Google’s advertising networks, AdSense, allows website owners to publish adverts on their website in exchange for a share of the revenue. For every click, an advert gets on their website the owner receives money. From that information alone you can probably guess where we are going with this… A few naughty ad publishers will purposely click their own ads to increase their ad revenues. They might make a bit more money by doing this, but the advertiser has to pay for the clicks. Although this is completely against Google’s terms of service, it definitely still happens.

How are Search Engines Tackling it?

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To try and combat click fraud many search engines and ad networks have implemented numerous “anti-click fraud” features. Take Google for example, they own the largest PPC ad network in the world. To combat click fraud they introduced their invalid click feature a while back. By using Google’s vast statistical data of IP addresses and users, Google’s anti-click fraud feature can work out when a user is not real or is fraudulently clicking ads.

By examining the IP address, the frequency of clicks and location of the user if they are determined to be fraudulent then the click will not be counted. Any click determined fraudulent will be refunded to the owner of the PPC campaign which will allow them to get a genuine click for free. So not only does this help identify fraudulent clicks, but it also refunds any user who has been the victim of them. Nice job Google!

Get Extra Protection

Like we mentioned before, search engines such as Google are doing their hardest to ensure customers only pay for genuine clicks on their ad network. As great as that may sound, it doesn’t solve the problem entirely. Competitors can do very sneaky things to make sure their clicks are counted as genuine although they don’t have any intention of buying from you.

To add an extra layer of protection to your PPC campaigns, you need specialist anti-click fraud software such as PPC Protect. From as little as $9.95 a month, PPC Protect can help protect your PPC campaigns by constantly analysing the users who click on your ads. As soon as it identifies repetitive patterns in users, then they’ll be added to the blacklist, saving you precious money. To see how you can protect your PPC campaigns from unwanted fraudulent clicks be sure to give PPC Protect a visit.

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