Click fraud is a significant cause of concern for websites utilising Google AdWords and similar PPC ad platforms. So, should you invest in PPC to generate revenue?
Although these paid ads are great for online marketing, fraudulent clicks will only drive away potential customers and drain your budget. In the long run, you will be paying for ad platforms with little to no return. In the global scenario, the World Federation of Advertisers predicts a $50 billion yearly loss by 2025 due to click fraud.
Since Google Ads is an excellent platform for money-making, fraud companies are always on the lookout for making quick cash. This impacts the quality score of your website and brand. The lower the score, the higher the expenses you’ll incur for CPC bids.
To prevent such click fraud, you need to know what causes it and how to avoid such invalid clicks from occurring in the future by burning your online advertising budget. So, let’s look at how you can protect yourself by using Google Ad fraud detection software!
What is Click Fraud?
A click fraud or invalid click can be defined as a black-hat act of increasing the number of clicks on Google and PPC ads. Such fraudsters may include business competitors, haters, bots, and click farms.
Sometimes, accidental clicks from users with no malicious intent can cost you a fortune. 60% of mobile users click on ads because of fat fingers! Thus, it is essential to identify these problems to minimise suspicious activity and allow your website to attract genuine clicks and traffic.
Types of Click Fraud
You need to know the typical culprits behind this malicious activity to prevent click fraud. Understanding the behaviours of various fraudsters prevalent on the Internet is crucial to eliminate click fraud.
1. Bots and Fraudulent Software
Automated programs, also known as bots, from hijacked servers and computers, can generate high numbers of bogus clicks and deceptive conversions. Although these actions mimic human activity, Google uses automated filters and its team of experts to stop click fraud.
The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) also plays a massive role in helping Google in click fraud detection by targeting common fraudulent tactics like crawler traffic, cookie-stuffing, etc. Even accidental clicks, especially on mobile devices, are identified since these provide little to no engagement and bounce rates of up to 100%.
Most invalid actions are filtered from your website bills, and if any fraud click goes undetected, you’ll be credited for the same. This practice is known as invalid activity credit adjustment.
2. Manual Clicks by Webmasters
Owners of content-targeted websites that utilise the Google Display Network get their advertisements displayed on various third-party sites. Such websites are owned by webmasters who join the Google AdSense program to earn 68% of the total amount generated through ad clicks.
Hence, these webmasters try to increase their revenue! Google’s checking process is up top by partnering with various websites and apps and formulating strict requirements policies. If any of them violates the rules of fair advertising, they are banned from the AdSense program.
Also, Google immediately terminates publishers with fraudulent traffic. However, the publisher is suspended until further notice if the invalid traffic is purely coincidental without any malicious intent.
3. Manual Clicks by Competitors
An unfortunate and common occurrence is competitor click fraud, where competitors targeting the same keyword or niche resort to fraudulent clicks on your website to inflate your advertising costs. Keywords with more bidders have an intense level of competition. Consequently, every bidder’s cost increases, and some might even run out of funds.
What are Legitimate Clicks?
Let’s find out what legitimate clicks are to better understand the definition of invalid clicks. Since some of these clicks may seem suspicious, it is best to do the research and not let them affect your earnings. For instance, sometimes, competitors will genuinely want to click on your site while conducting competitor research.
On the other hand, you may notice the same users visiting your site multiple times to compare products and services while shopping. If there are numerous clicks from the same IP address, it could result from ISP allocation protocols.
Ways to Prevent Click Fraud
After identifying which clicks are invalid, you can choose from the various ways to stop the chances of click fraud on your website. However, you must figure out which preventive measures will best suit you. Look at the methods listed below to identify click fraud and stop invalid clicks...
1. IP Exclusions in Google AdWords
If you’ve checked on the IP addresses responsible for click fraud, you can block your Google Ad from serving that address in the future.
If you notice a regular visitor that does not take any action on your site, it could be a case of fraudulent clicks. Blocking your Google Ad for that particular IP address can help keep invalid activity controlled.
All you have to do is click on the Google Ads campaign that needs to be excluded and choose the “IP Exclusion link” from “Advanced Settings”. Select “Edit” and type the fraud IP address. Then click on “Save”, and you’re good to go.
Fortunately, IP exclusions can be done for all Google AdWords Campaigns, meaning you can block a potentially fraudulent IP address based on an individual ad campaign.
When a Dynamic IP Address is Used...
Unfortunately, fraudsters know how they might get caught, so they resort to IP hopping tools to dodge click fraud detection. But don’t panic because you can still stop them by using IP-based features from third-party tools. Alternatively, you can keep tabs on the IP addresses and source cookies that create a unique ID number on your landing page. Such IPs can be tracked further to recognise their behaviour patterns.
However, you must maintain a report of such activity to have clear evidence for Google. As a result, you’ll avoid paying extra money for ad fraud.
2. Observe Timestamp
Keeping an eye on the action timestamp of a user from their visit to your site until they take any action is essential in Google AdWords fraud protection. This is because any user with malicious intent will click on your ads to enter your website without any following action. Thus, it is best to block such a user’s IP address to protect your site from click fraud.
3. Use Google Analytics
Many website owners turn to Google Analytics to help prevent fraudulent activity. Besides checking the performance of your page and the keywords you’re dealing in, it also highlights repetitive ad clicks from suspicious IP addresses.
You can refer to your Google AdWords account to ensure you’re not paying for fraudulent activity. To do this, you can visit the “Tools’ section on your account and click on “Billing and Payments” under the “Setup” window. Select “View Transactions and Documents”; you will find all invalid clicks under the “Invalid Activity” category.
4. Opt for Google Display Network Remarketing Campaigns
Remarketing allows users to see ads only if they are interested in them during their prior online activity. This way, publishers can easily avoid click fraud since they won’t see those ads. Companies offering display marketing services can help in this process.
5. Use Specific PPC Keywords
Limit your options by targeting industry—specific keywords only. Instead of catering to various niches, having a specific audience to produce genuine traffic that increases conversion rates is best.
6. Check User Behaviour Regularly
Make sure you check your PPC campaigns every day to identify ads and keywords that generate the most conversions on your site. Checking user behaviour on all the search engines will give you an idea of what drives them towards your brand and service. However, if you notice a similar behaviour among fraudsters, immediately stop your ads from popping up on their screens.
7. Ad Targeting
If you notice many invalid clicks from a particular geographical area, especially where your business does not operate, it’s high time you block those locations. These areas are called “click farms”, where real people are made to click on ads as cheap labour.
To dodge such click farms, head over to your Google AdWords account and exclude the area from the “Locations” section. Additionally, you can exclude the respective language(s) too. This simple but effective method to prevent fraud clicking is called ad targeting. But ensure you don’t block the traffic that brings high conversion rates.
8. Formulate a Budget
Set a maximum PPC advertising budget for your daily online marketing. This will help control click fraud when running Google Ads campaigns and keep a check on your expenditure.
9. Fraud Detection Software
Opting for effective fraud detection and prevention software can help protect PPC advertising. Such software identifies users who resort to invalid clicks on your site. This process involves monitoring your Google Ads account and traffic and blocking fraudulent sources. You will save money by avoiding invalid credit and boosting your conversion rates in the long run.
Click Fraud on Mobile Ads
Many people use mobiles to visit various web pages. Likewise, fraudsters leave no stone unturned in draining your mobile ad budget. Nothing Is worse than seeing your ad spend drained because of click fraud. Here are the three major types of fraud clicks on mobile ads:
1. Click Injection
This method of click fraud takes place when an app is automated to track “install broadcasts” on your device. So, every time you download an app, the fraudsters can generate multiple clicks by the time the app gets installed.
2. SDK Spoofing/ Traffic Spoofing/ Replay Attacks
Fraudsters use real device data to imitate installs in this method, eventually driving up costs.
3. Click Spam
The most common type of click fraud on mobile clicks is spam. This occurs when a fraudster clicks on behalf of genuine users oblivious to the displayed ads. They could be clicking in the background while your ads continue being victims of invalid clicks.
Fraud Protection on Mobile Ads
Here are some methods to detect mobile click fraud and prevent fraudsters from attacking your web page and Google AdWords; the best click fraud protection tools use various detection methods.
1. Track Event Time
If users download your mobile software and immediately purchase it within seconds, it’s not time to celebrate! You have most likely fallen prey to SDK spoofing, which will drive up your costs without any returns.
2. Event Flow
You can analyse the event flow of your software to understand the source you receive the most viewers from. This will help in publishing your app efficiently while preventing invalid clicks.
3. CTIT (Click to Install Time)
While monitoring the CTIT rate of your app, if you notice short intervals between a user clicking on your ad and then downloading the app, you could be a victim of click-injection fraud. Additionally, click-install frequency is another analysis of checking fraudsters who could escape CTIT detection.
4. AI-based Click Fraud Protection Software
AI forms a crucial component of many automated click fraud protection service software that can save you time, effort, and money by targeting and blocking click fraud. Such apps and software track cursor movement to differentiate invalid clicks from valid ones.
Most of the time, identifying click fraud is most by the work, discovering whether or not a Google AdWords click is legitimate or fraudulent.
For instance, while a real user moves the cursor in a “natural” curvy motion, a bot’s movement forms quick, straight lines. Thus, click fraud detection software analyses these patterns with the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML(Machine Learning).
Moreover, you can quickly check the legitimacy of an IP address through sites like WhatIsMyIP, WhatIsMyIPAddress, and IP2Location. Or let us do the job for you...
We know all that information may have been a lot to understand in one go. Plus, tackling click fraud is another headache with different methods, apps, software, etc. To save you from the hassle of choosing the best click fraud preventive method, we’d like to offer you our all-in-one click fraud protection services.
Though it might be hard to accept, the conclusion about click fraud is clear: prevention strategies may offer the best protection against this form of fraud. Properly configured ad campaigns will include proper keyword grouping, negative keyword lists and a well-optimised audience that may stop potential future fraud on your account.
We are a search engine marketing agency based in Australia. Right from optimising your SEO to protecting you from click fraud- no job is too challenging for us! Thanks to our team of web developers, SEO experts, and ad managers, we’ve got something for all of your unique requirements. We don’t believe in the’ it works for others’ mentality. Every client is different, and so is our service for each of you.
Our paid ad management service encompasses your own advertisements across various ad networks such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing, and more to ensure you enjoy cheap clicks with better ROI. We understand the financial implications of running costly PPC advertising campaigns, so we use the best AI technology, Heat Mapping, and A/B testing to bring higher conversions and, thus, a high-quality score on Google.