Successfully running digital advertising campaigns is complex. The threat of click fraud and its negative impact on your campaign performance only makes things more difficult. 

According to recent reports from Statista, the cost of online advertising fraud is estimated to grow to $44 billion by the year 2022. 

While media buyers and advertisers continue to get smarter about creating campaigns that are more engaging with better targeting, fraudsters are getting better at a similar pace. 

Because of that, being able to successfully detect click fraud in your digital advertising has never been more important in minimizing your budgets and maximizing ROI.

Below, learn the basics of click fraud, how to detect it, and how our platform can help your business stay protected against the significant volume of paid traffic your site receives from fraudulent marketing efforts.      

What Is Click Fraud? Why Is It Bad?

Click fraud occurs online in any form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising when a click is created, by bots or human Internet users, with no specific interest in engagement with an ad. In PPC search engine advertising campaigns, it is bad because publishers of advertising are paid based on how many times an ad is clicked. 

Therefore, click fraud often results in a combination of the following:

  • High ad spend
  • High click-through rate
  • Low conversion rate

PPC advertising – and therefore click fraud – is most commonly found in the Google Ads and Facebook Advertising networks. Those two platforms account for over 50% of the PPC advertising market. Therefore, if your company engages in ad campaigns on those platforms, the likelihood of your campaigns experiencing fraudulent clicks is also higher. 

Who Is Responsible For It?

The responsibility for click fraud can be pointed to many different parties. Two of the most common culprits include:

  • Competitors: in today’s saturated paid search advertising market, competitors can often be found repeatedly clicking on your ads. If they can exhaust your daily budgets, then they can occupy the no. 1 spot for your top revenue-generating keywords. 
  • Malicious Attackers: in malicious attack attempts, attackers actually try to make it look like a publisher is clicking on its own ads. When this happens, ad networks sometimes pause or even suspend campaigns with publishers because it appears as though they are acting in bad faith.

Of course, these aren’t the only scenarios where an Internet user commits click fraud. That said, more often than not a review of click fraud causes points back to one of those two situations.

How Can Click Fraud Be Detected?

We have mentioned several ways you can determine if your campaigns have been a victim in the paragraphs above. Below are five other ways you may be able to easily detect that your campaigns have been compromised by ad fraud.

  • Weird spikes in ad impressions and the number of clicks
  • The following performance trends during spikes in impressions and clicks
    • No increase in conversion volume
    • No increase in the number of pageviews
    • An increase in bounce rate

To determine if your campaigns have received invalid clicks, you should be able to review all of these performance trends. Log in to your website analytics platforms, or review the performance dashboards of your advertising platform. 

How Do You Prevent Click Fraud?

Preventing click fraud is possible, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Below are five effective ways to make sure your campaigns are protected from the threat of this impacting your results. 

  • Competitor Monitoring: In any digital advertising campaign, watching who you compete with in the search results is an important way to track your success. Keep in mind that in the online world, your competitor set can differ greatly from who you compete with offline. So be mindful of what domains you watch on a regular basis.  
  • Limit Ad Visibility: The more control and customization you make to your advertising campaigns, the lower the likelihood that malicious attackers or competitors will be able to click on your ads and cause click fraud. Be sure to deploy advertising tactics like geo-targeting, long-tail search terms, and device targeting.
  • Campaign Monitoring: The most successful PPC advertising campaigns are run with regular, daily maintenance. Being attentive to these campaigns can not only improve their performance but can also help you discover potential click fraud faster.
  • Use Exclusion Lists: if your ad campaigns are also running on the Google Display Network, make sure you have an accurate and extensive exclusion list to limit the visibility of your ads from low-quality or irrelevant sites to your target audience. 
  • Invest In Prevention Tools: a variety of solutions out there on the market can help you prevent click fraud through the use of thoughtful controls, real-time market channel intelligence, and automated anomaly detection. Learn more about how we can help with marketing and affiliate fraud here.  
To learn more about how our solutions can help you conserve your marketing spend, please check out our overviews of Authority Monitoring Services for Marketing Intelligence.