Why Should Dealers Care About Click Fraud and What It Is?
Running advertising campaigns on a daily basis can be difficult and time-consuming. You are concerned about the efficacy of your messaging, the accuracy of your audience targeting, the potential ROI, and other factors.
Black hat shenanigans are the last thing anyone wants to deal with in a situation like this, but regrettably no industry is immune to fraud. In fact, behind the drug trade, ad fraud is now the second-largest global organized criminal operation, and by 2025, it is predicted to cost advertisers more than $50 billion worldwide.1
Who is the worst offender? fake clicks.
How does click fraud work?
The term “click fraud” refers to illegal conduct that targets your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing advertising. If you need a reminder, PPC refers to advertisements that you pay for each time they are clicked and are often displayed on major search engines or ad networks. They are effective when used in addition to other methods of increasing organic website traffic.
Falsely inflating the number of clicks on an advertisement is known as “click fraud,” and it typically happens in one of two ways: either your rivals sabotage you by repeatedly clicking to raise your cost-per-click and waste your ad budget, or the owner of the website or app where your advertisement is displayed is trying to artificially inflate their own revenue.
You can see how this would be a difficulty! Competitors are using dishonest tactics to attempt and reduce the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns, while website owners who are part of an ad network are simply stealing from you.
These possibilities are anything but as unbelievable as they may seem. Due to click fraud on its website, tech giant Google was forced to pay out roughly $100 million in credits as far back as 2006. Facebook also sued two app developers just last year for click fraud on its platform.
There are also long-term ripple effects to take into account, such as the distorted data you are extracting from the impacted PPC campaign, which makes it far less helpful than it would have been otherwise.
So, how can you fight back if you’re conducting PPC advertising (as you should be) and worried about click fraud reducing your income potential and profitability?
Keeping Click Fraud at Bay
The good news is that there are steps you can do to prevent click fraud if you realize it poses a risk to the effectiveness of your PPC ads.
To begin with, you’ll need the capacity to perform some fundamental tracking and reporting, whether it be internally, via the ad platform itself, or via a third-party partner who manages that connection on your behalf.
Your reporting must specifically include the IP address, click, and action timestamps for each click. With this information, you can determine the device clicking (and, with a little more investigation, who it belongs to), the time the user arrived at your website after clicking the advertisement, and the time the user took an action on your website. There’s a significant possibility you’ve discovered click fraud if you notice numerous click timestamps from the same IP address but no action timestamps.
Then what? Setting up IP exclusions is the most direct measure you can take to stop your ad from ever again being delivered to that IP address, effectively stopping any click fraud coming from that device for as long as you block them.
You can modify your ad targeting to exclude certain geographic regions down to the level of city and zip code if you suspect a specific competitor or even a “click farm” headquartered in another country is the perpetrator, assuring your advertising will no longer be delivered to the would-be saboteurs.
Like many other types of cybercrime, click fraud is a severe problem that is only going to get worse in the years to come. You don’t need to be a victim, though. Keep an eye out for certain signs, keep an eye on your PPC campaigns (or leave them in the hands of a trusted vendor partner), and be aware of how to combat click fraud if and when it occurs.
Before long, you’ll be catching the evil guys.
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