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Many companies rely on a pay-per-click campaign (PPC), which is a type of online paid advertisement for goods and services designed for search engines or website placements. An advertiser pays the search engine, for instance, Google, or a website where these ads are placed whenever a user clicks on them. However, fraudulent clicks have been a perennial problem since the onset of the digital age, and fraudsters show no signs of stopping, leaving widely-used platforms, such as Google and Facebook, vulnerable.
If you’re interested in knowing what fraud clicks are and how to identify them, read on.
What Is Click Fraud?
Click fraud most often occurs in PPC ad campaigns, such that an automated script or computer program imitates the actions of actual web users clicking on web-based advertisements. In rare instances, actual humans are involved in this type of online advertisement scam.
As an ad is placed on a search engine or website, a bot, malware, or a real person clicks on this ad to produce an artificially high amount of monetized user interaction. Being a form of performance-based advertising, website owners or advertisers pay a specific amount of money, which is calculated based on the number of visitors who clicked on the ad. The sad part is that there’s no genuine interest on the part of the ‘attacker,’ hence, becoming a wasted yet costly opportunity for the advertiser.
In 2015, it was reported that an estimated USD$6.13 billion worth of revenues was taken away by predominantly bot-driven clicks from the advertising sector.
Typically, promoting click fraud is, in itself, not an act of malware generation. However, as this type of scam is performed mainly by a standalone ‘bot,’ the capacity to automatically generate clicks becomes incorporated as one of the capabilities of the malware, which is software that’s created to deliberately damage a computer, server, or a computer network.
A click fraud then becomes one of the functions of malware that causes a bigger threat. Once a user innocently clicks on a malware-laden app or e-mail attachment, these risks could occur:
Access to sensitive information
Privacy problems due to web browser tracking
System security issues
How To Spot A Click Fraud
It’s extremely challenging to detect all forms of click fraud and other malicious activities on the Internet. Google, for its part, implemented Captcha and ReCaptcha systems to ensure that a human and not a robot is clicking on specific sites or ads.
However, you can spot click fraud and reduce the risks by doing the following:
Use A Reliable Click Fraud Software
With the help of modern technology, you can quickly detect the presence of click fraud in your PPC marketing efforts. This is through the use of a reliable click fraud software whose task is to protect your business against the manual or automatic efforts to inflate click numbers on certain advertisements.
Look For The Signs
In addition to using a click fraud software, you can also identify click fraud by looking at the essential signs. These can include:
An abnormally high number of impressions (or the number of times your advertisement shows on search results pages)
Unusual peaks in the number of PPC clicks, usually from the same ISP (Internet service provider)
No impact on the conversion figures despite a high number of impressions or clicks
Spikes in search costs that exceed projections
A questionable performance data, such as a reduction in the number of page views as compared to the peaks in impressions and clicks.
A high bounce rate (number of people clicking on your ad and going back to the search results page) during the time the high number of impressions and clicks were recorded
Regularly Monitor PPC Analytics
Another way to save yourself from the budget-draining effects of click fraud is to always check on your PPC analytics. Be on the lookout for unusual and questionable figures. Suspect click fraud if you’re seeing a high number of clicks without seeing any uptick in conversions.
Observe User Behavior And Check the ISP Of Your Ad Clickers
For instance, take a close look on time stamps to see how things are being clicked. If it’s done really fast, it’s likely done by a bot. Humans have significant time delays for the first, second, and succeeding clicks. On the other hand, traffic coming from a cold service ISP is most often generated by bots running on servers, thereby it can be considered a form of click fraud.
While it’s impossible to root out all malicious activities online, click fraud included, there are steps you can take. Among these are diligent monitoring of PPC analytics, downloading an application that protects you from click fraud, and checking the ISP, as well as other details, to identify and minimize the risks.
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