Thinking of using pay per click advertising but you're worried about ad fraud?
PPC campaigns are a proven way to drive targeted visitors to your website or app. Yet the threat of PPC fraud from bots and scammers holds back businesses from fully investing.
This article examines how to fight ad fraud in a pay per click campaign.
See who is abusing the system and why. Learn how pay per click marketing fraud works. And most importantly, identify ways to stop fraudulent clicks.
Read on to see how your business can earn more traffic from PPC without being scammed.
What Is a Pay Per Click Campaign?
Pay per click or PPC ads charge advertisers only when their advert gets clicked.
Google Ads lets advertisers build campaigns or online adverts to market their websites. Ads appear within Google's network including search results and partner platforms.
Every PPC campaign targets certain keywords or search phrases.
For example, retailers selling Nike trainers would target a specific product range. Their ads would appear for keywords like Nike Downshifter or Nike running shoes.
This targeted method forms the core of PPC strategy. Businesses can filter their advertisements to only appear for matching search terms. They can also specify locales, like region or city, and device types like mobile phones.
Every advert has a daily budget. Once it's reached, the advert is deactivated until the next day's billing period.
This means you can actively plan how much to spend in any given month.
If certain keywords return a better click-through rate or CTR then you can increase that campaign's budget. And for those that underperform, either decrease your spending or remove them.
But how much does it cost to advertise on Google Ads?
Cost Per Click
Google will tell you how much a keyword/phrase will cost.
You're able to see how many times that keyword's been used and the approximate CPC. Divide your daily budget by that figure and that's how many clicks you can expect to receive per day.
Certain keywords are in high demand.
Lots of advertisers want their ads to appear at the top of the list. And they're prepared to pay for it.
Google Ads uses a bidding system to manage this. The automated process works on how much you're willing to spend. This maximum bid keeps a cap on things but still makes your ads competitive.
Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Internet Bots
What Is Pay Per Click Ad Fraud?
PPC charges when someone (or something) clicks on an advert. Therefore, pay per click ad fraud involves abusing this system to generate fraudulent charges.
An advertiser's budget can quickly vanish when hundreds of fake clicks occur. Their bounce rates soar as supposed visitors arrive at their site then leave. And if they rely on PPC as the main means to advertise, then sales will plummet.
Why would anyone want to create false leads and waste advertisers' money?
To answer that, we need to look at who are the fraudsters and examine their motives.
Who Is Responsible for Ad Fraud?
Anyone can click on a PPC link including random searchers. They waste advertiser's money but don't go out of their way to do so.
That isn't fraud.
Fraud is a purposeful attack targeted against one or more adverts or advertisers. The four most common fraudsters include:
Remember that there's a constant bidding war going on. Competing businesses want the top spot for their keywords and bid to rank #1.
Sadly, some businesses abuse the system by killing their competitors' budgets using PPC fraud. With a decimated budget, the bidding reduces and they can place their advert in a better position for less money.
Competitors are the most common type of fraudsters.
And for businesses who choose not to stick to a daily budget, click fraud can cost them thousands of dollars.
Fraud farms or rings are organized criminal gangs working together to scam money through ad fraud.
They use bot networks to deceive ad providers into thinking real people are clicking on their links. They often host the partner websites so money floods in from false clicks. They also work on behalf of competitors to do their dirty work for them.
Scammers can come from anywhere but major rings seem to center in Russia and Asia. Reports of Russian criminals scamming $5 million a day for fake video ad-clicks continue to surface.
Websites within the Google AdSense network get paid when someone clicks on ads hosted on their site.
Revenue can reach 68% of each ad clicked and as we've seen, some ads cost over $50. Add those clicks up and it's easy to see why many webmasters are tempted to click on their own links.
Disgruntled customers or employees use fake clicks to hit back at a business.
It's simple revenge over a perceived grievance. The impact is minor compared to fraud farms but if taken to an extreme level, can severely impact a daily budget.
How Does PPC Ad Fraud Work?
Scammers use two ways to falsify clicks: manually or by using bots.
Clicking or tapping an advert is the easiest way to activate the PPC link. It's simple to do but over-abusing manual clicks trigger warning signals.
Because each Internet device has a unique IP address, Google is able to recognize fraudulent actions.
If someone continually clicks the same ads within a short space of time, their IP address will be flagged. Those ads won't appear to that user and users might even get blacklisted.
Bots and Malware
On the other hand, virtual bot networks pretend to be human visitors but still make false clicks.
They work independently so a person doesn't have to be present. Unlike the manual method, they can make thousands of fraudulent clicks every second!
But won't Google recognize these bots as fake?
Bot programmers use sophisticated techniques to fool fraud analyzing tools. Scams like domain masking and spoofing hide their footprints. They can falsify their location data and swap IP addresses easily.
Fraudsters also create malware software that infects a computer. Once installed, the scammer controls that computer's actions, including clicks on PPC adverts.
Botnets hold thousands of unsuspecting PCs hostage. They can be used for ad fraud or denial of service attacks (DDOS) to bring down a web service.
PPC Fraud Prevention
What is Google doing to prevent ad scams? And how can businesses be sure they're only paying for real leads?
Google Ad Quality Center
Google's internal fraud prevention center tracks every ad clicked in their network.
This constant monitoring detects fraud and if your business suffers as a result, they'll refund you. That's great news for advertisers, knowing that their links stem from high-quality traffic.
Except that Google doesn't detect every fake click.
And if you become aware of fraud and Google doesn't then you need to provide clear evidence to get your money back. That process can take time while an investigation takes place.
Ad Fraud Protection Services
Many advertisers take matters into their own hands to reduce fraud. They hire ad fraud protection companies to monitor and block fake clicks.
Services like Anura.io offer a full website ad fraud detection facility. They stop fake forms submissions and validate eCommerce transactions to avoid chargebacks.
A good protection service works with other agencies to combine fraudulent data. Current statistics identify fraud farms, especially for high-cost keywords.
The services use IP address blacklists to identify users with a bad quality score.
These scores help determine traffic sources who abuse the system. The protection services calculate those figures by analyzing web traffic. Points are deducted for users hiding behind a virtual private network, for example.
Proxy detection and device fingerprinting also helps identify fraudsters.
A proxy acts as a wall online, shielding the user's real IP address. But these proxies act like red flags to ad fraud services so their quality score gets reduced.
Known fraudulent devices are stored in a database. When they try to abuse the ad system, fingerprinting identifies them and prevents the scam.
Real-Time Click Fraud Blocking
eZanga has built-in fraud blocking in our Traffic Advisors platform.
This tool works in real-time to cleanse your ad traffic. It weeds out fake sources before it affects your daily budget. And you've access to current statistics to analyze the traffic clicking on your adverts.
Our TAScore rating system ranks conversion rates to show what works and what doesn't. A higher score means high-quality traffic with the highest click-through rate.
Less Fraud and More Ad
Now that you know what PPC ad fraud is and how to fight it, it's time to make your ads work smarter.
Our AdPad app helps manage your ad campaigns in one place.
Place your adverts across the highest-yielding niche sites, blogs, and search engines. We target the right traffic where your competition can't reach.
Campaigns are optimized and we're here to support you.
And as AdPad works with our Traffic Advisors system, you can say goodbye to illegitimate traffic. Our filtering software analyzes your visitors and blocks fraudulent clicks automatically.
Contact us to discuss your online marketing requirements. Bring quality traffic to your site without worrying about fake clicks.
There's less fraud and more ad with eZanga.