For anyone working in pay-per-click marketing, getting the most out of any ad budget should be their primary concern.
With the majority of PPC managers’ time spent optimising clients’ campaigns, many managers often overlook other possible budget leaks.
A growing concern for many PPC managers is the huge rise in click fraud over recent years which is responsible for businesses losing billions of dollars in ad spend.
If you work in PPC marketing and haven’t heard of click fraud, then don’t fret. Although it affects millions of advertisers, not everyone understands what it is and just how costly it can be.
But by the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what click fraud is and who’s responsible for it. Big thanks to the team at PPC Protect for writing this up for us!
What Is Click Fraud?
The concept of click fraud is pretty easy to understand. Whenever a user clicks a paid ad on Google search or the display network, advertisers are charged for every click. After all, that’s why the advertising model is called pay per click in the first place!
But what happens when the same users repeatedly click your ads and they have no intention of ever buying your products or services?
This is where the problem arises.
To further the point, click fraud can be defined as: the fraudulent clicking of pay-per-click ads in order to generate fraudulent charges for advertisers.
Of course, not all click fraud is intentional as you’ll see later, but regardless of who clicks the ads, advertisers have to pay for every click.
So who’s responsible for click fraud and why would anyone purposely waste someone else’s paid search budget?
Who’s Responsible For Click Fraud?
There are many culprits that can be responsible for click fraud and draining advertisers’ precious ad spend. But if you just think it’s your competitors, then think again.
In some cases, customers can be responsible for click fraud both intentionally and unintentionally. With normal browsing behaviour, customers will often click the same ads multiple times as they compare prices and companies online. Unfortunately for advertisers, regardless if they buy or not, they still have to pay for the click.
On the other hand, sometimes angry or disgruntled customers can purposely click a companies ads in order to “seek revenge” and make them pay for their bad experience. Although this kind of attack isn’t as common (or costly) as others, in some industries it can still cost companies a lot of money.
In some industries and niches, the competition can often be so cutthroat that every company is looking for an edge. When competing for the same keywords in the same market, some companies will turn to click fraud to get an edge over their competitors.
By clicking their competitors’ ads, businesses essentially waste their ad budget by bombarding them with fake clicks that have no intention of buying anything. In some cases, if a company has set a daily ad spend, they can even trigger that and cause their ads to disappear entirely for the rest of the day.
Competitors aren’t the only ones that have a financial incentive when clicking ads. Many webmasters often run Google ads on their websites to generate revenue from their content. With Google’s huge display ad network, almost any webmaster can sign up to run ads on their site.
As part of the deal, Google pays publishers for every click they receive on their website’s ads. With this kind of incentive, it’s no wonder that some webmasters purposely click their own ads to make more money. That’s also why display ads currently have the highest rate of click fraud on Google’s ad network.
The biggest culprit by far when it comes to click fraud is organised crime and fraud rings. These groups operate like a business and mass-produce fake websites to run their click fraud schemes on.
Usually employing bots to automate the work for them, these large-scale operations can cost advertisers billions a year as they indiscriminately click ads. By spreading their fraudulent activity over hundreds or even thousands of websites, almost any business can be affected by click fraud without them ever even noticing.
In recent years, there have been plenty of ad fraud rings discovered by investigators that target many platforms including Google’s display network, YouTube and PlayStore. These large-scale operations were able to rake in millions of dollars per day for the groups behind them.
How Click Fraud Affects Advertisers
Click fraud can have serious consequences for advertisers who let it go unchecked. The first and most obvious effect is the financial loss from having to pay for all the fake clicks. These clicks cost the industry billions of dollars a year and can cost individual companies significant amounts especially when they are in high cost per click industries.
But click fraud doesn’t just cause financial loss, it can also skew advertisers’ data and analytics to the point where they aren’t accurate. This can cause many problems further down the line when trying to analyse the most profitable marketing channels and campaigns.
Without clear and accurate data, this could lead to companies over or underinvesting in paid search as their skewed data tells a different story.
How To Fight Back Against Click Fraud
With the rise of click fraud over the years, many companies have started to fight back.
Although Google does have its own invalid click centre which aims to tackle ad fraud, many advertisers believe that it’s not enough and still lets too many fraudulent clicks through.
Having lost trust in Google and their protection, many have turned to 3rd party solutions to verify their clicks and save their ad budgets.
One of the industry leaders in the click fraud detection space is PPC Protect. A fully automated platform that advertisers can integrate into their Google Ads accounts to reduce the number of fraudulent clicks. With minimal setup required, businesses can save thousands on autopilot, letting them focus on managing their ad campaigns. We build in PPC Protect to our PPC retainers, meaning DMT customers can breathe a sigh of relief!
Want to ensure your PPC campaigns are optimised and protected from fraudsters at all times? Get in touch to learn how we can help you get the most out of your paid search ad spend.