Online advertising allows businesses to reach more prospects for a tiny proportion of what they’d pay in traditional advertising platforms. Online ads also allow you to target particular demographics. This precision combined with their real-time analytics and the capability to track advertising spend make online ads central to any advertising campaign.
There are many models of online advertising, from cost per impression ads to banners. The models are evolving continually and so you have plenty of choices. But none of these models can beat the customizability and power of the pay per click (PPC) ads
But even with its obvious merits, PPC has a soft underbelly – click fraud. But this shouldn’t dissuade you from deploying this powerful advertising model. Provided you are aware of this phenomenon and you’ve set up proactive protective measures, you’ll be fine.
Are you unsure of how to detect click fraud? Read on and learn more.
What’s Click Fraud?
Click fraud is an underhand tactic that entails misleadingly driving up the count of clicks in PPC ads. Usually, Click Fraud is driven by either of these two incentives:
- Advertisers attempting to disrupt their competitors by increasing their costs and pushing them to their budget caps earlier in the day.
- Ad publishers fraudulently clicking on the adverts displayed on their platforms to boost revenue for themselves.
What Preventive Measures Have Search Engines Taken?
Search engines like Google have been receiving criticism for years for their half-hearted attempts at quashing click fraud. This suspicion isn’t unjustifiable. Remember search engines make their money regardless of whether a click is fraudulent or not.
To shore up their reputation, the main ad platforms have set up task forces to counter click fraud. Google has built one of the most robust anti-click systems. Advanced algorithms flag and block falsified clicks instantaneously, way before advertisers are charged.
Since filters may miss some of the sham clicks, The Ad Traffic Quality group at Google also conducts manual analysis and takes out any clicks it deems fraudulent before advertisers are billed. Additionally, Google does evaluations based on advertisers' reports of dubious activity.
Now that you're fully aware of how click frauds work, you're most likely wondering whether it's going on in your account. Well, don’t panic, there is a lot you can do to identify and prevent click fraud. Depending on the resources and time at your disposal, you can approach click fraud prevention in two ways: get an automated solution or through manual analysis.
How to Eradicate Click Fraud
Even with search engines’ efforts to prevent click fraud, it’s still a major issue. Here is how to prevent click fraud:
1. IP Exclusions
If you’ve done your analysis and you’ve identified the IP addresses from which the fraudulent clicks emanating from, you can exclude your ads from being shown on those IPs. To implement the IP exclusion, you only need to go to the Settings tab, scroll down to IP Exclusions, plug in the suspect IP addresses and you’re good to go.
2. Adjust Your Targeting
Sometimes you only need to make a small shift in your targeting to eliminate invalid clicks. If your analysis shows that click fraud is emanating from a particular region (‘click farms’ are mostly based in impoverished countries with lower labor rates), it's prudent to exclude those locations and their particular languages.
If you think your competitor is running a click fraud scheme against you, you should exclude their city, zip code, etc. You should, however, be cautious; otherwise, you may end eliminating good traffic. You should only opt for these exclusions if you're certain that most of the clicks coming out of these areas are falsified.
The whole process of tracking offenders manually can, however, be boring and time-consuming. Besides, with limited data, it can be hard to track fraudsters who’re using multiple IP addresses. You may be better off focusing on improving your PPC campaigns instead of continually battling click fraud.
3. Invest in Click Fraud Prevention Expertise
The best way to eliminate click fraud is to rely on software solutions built to fight it. Click fraud prevention software like clickcease.com utilizes a combination of data from multiple campaigns across a wide range of industries. Such software can therefore easily identify the IP addresses that swindlers are using.
Once it has evidence that given addresses are malicious, it automatically excludes them and requests for reimbursement for any prior clicks that came from those IPs. By deploying such software, you’ll get to protect your ads without having to spend endless hours examining server IP logs.