Click Fraud: How to Prevent Fraudulent Clicks From Inflating Your PPC Advertising Costs


Click Fraud

You pay for every click on your ad. While clicks are great because it is an indicator of ad success, it can also be a bane if the clicks are fraudulent. 

Click fraud happens when a competitor deploys robots to click on your ads. If this happens, your advertising budget will get drained. If your budget is $0.01 per click, and your total ad budget is $100, you would expect 10,000 clicks before Google stops showing your ad. 

Here is the thing: some dirty rats have robots that will click your ads until that $100 is gone. The problem is that these clicks are not clicks from buyers. Basically, you just spent $100 and the clicks came from robots that have no intention to buy.  

So, how do you prevent it? Today, I’ll show you some steps on how to protect yourself. By the end of this tutorial, you will be armed with knowledge on how to prevent this from happening, and make the most out of your advertising budget.

Advertise on Social Media Only

The most immediate solution is to forget about advertising on search engines for now. The best thing you can do is to focus your marketing campaigns on social media sites.

While there are still click fraud groups out there, they do not have sophisticated robots that they can deploy on social media as they do on search engines. 

On social media, the targeting is so specific that there really is little likelihood for a fraudster to find your ads. It is the social media site that decides who to show the ads to. And most importantly, the ads are based on the profile of the user. 

In Google and other search engines, the ads do not show according to the user profile, but rather the user’s behavior about searching.

What this means is that the only thing a robot has to do is to type a keyword on the search engine, wait for the ads about your business to pop-up and then click it again and again.

As you can see, search engines do not have a robust identification of who a user is. You can use the search engine even if you are not logged in. Social media does not work this way, you have to log in to be able to see its contents.

Exclude IP Addresses

You can do this after you have analyzed your data and realized that there are abnormal clicks coming from a few IP addresses.

Your Google Analytics will show you the number of clicks you are receiving per day, and you will find out that there may be some days when your clicks are abnormally high. 

In this case, you have to identify what days these are, and then determine which IP addresses have the most clicks. Google Analytics can show you this, and you have to review your advertising stats on a regular basis.

It is simple to get this done. Explore your Acquisition area in Google Analytics, then go to the AdWords section. Here, you will find which campaigns are costing you the most.

If there are irregular spikes in traffic for that campaign, you can drill down further and list down the IP addresses with the most clicks. 

Next time you set up an ad, exclude these IP addresses so Google will not show your ads to them. If they cannot see your ads, they cannot click it. Just go to your Settings as you do your ads, and then go to the IP Exclusions area.



Only Do Remarketing Ads

Remarketing or retargeting is an advertising approach where you show your ads only to people who have shown interest in your product. Retargeting mostly only happens on social media sites. 

What does this mean? On your second run, make sure you only show your ads to people who have clicked your ads before or people who have been to your website. If you do this, your ad will follow them on facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or any other channel where you can use a pixel. 

Because of this highly specific retargeting, your ads will not show to robots that are doing a search engine query to find ads. Your ads will only show to people who are logged-in to their accounts, and only if these same people have expressed interest in your product before.

You must know how to do retargeting to make this work. Also, there is still a risk of click fraud because fraudsters also have bots in social media. However, the risk is lesser than if you run your ads the usual way with no retargeting filters. 

Make Adjustments on Your Targeting

As you study your ad results in Google Analytics, it is likely for you to spot some parts of the world where your clicks are mostly coming from. In this case, the clicks from that country may be invalid.

Most click farms are in poor countries where labor is cheap. Yes, there is a manual click fraud where an actual human is involved in the clicking.

These are people who are paid to do the dirty work—either your competitors or simply malicious people who have something to gain from this criminal activity.  

What you can do is to just exclude that country from your advertising target. If you want to go more granular, you can exclude a particular zip code. Another option is to exclude an ad by language. 

Although this can be tedious, it is effective. If you can exclude places and languages from your ads, you know that these click farms will not have access to your ads, and you will not be a victim of fraud from these areas. 

Use an Anti-click Fraud Software

There are many anti-click fraud software programs that you can install and use to prevent ad click inflation. Some examples of these are:

What do they do?

You set them up and then they monitor your ads. If they spot anything that is suspicious—anything that fits the profile of click fraud—they automatically ban that IP address from your ads and traffic.

The main function of these tools is to detect fraud clicks and add that source to a blacklist. 

What happens is that you save on the cost of your advertising because the software stopped the fraud accounts from doing more damage. Many of these companies process trillions of data points each month, and they keep on growing their databases of fraudulent sources.

While they cannot guarantee that the blacklisted sources are 100% fraudulent, they have sophisticated systems that measure the behavior of clicks. These are algorithms or codes, that can spot anomalies or malicious behavior based on years of study. 

These things come at a cost. For example, ClickCease costs between $15 and $75 per month. What you pay for is the number of maximum clicks that the tool will analyze on a monthly basis. 

Summary

Click fraud is real. If you are an advertiser and you noticed that your ads are getting clicks but no sales, you must start asking yourself what is going on. Take action immediately—take the time to analyze your advertising data and prevent click fraud from happening to you again.

If you are looking for software to help protect your PPC campaigns from click fraud then I strongly recommend this website.



John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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