Click fraud relates to pay-per-click advertising. The cost of click fraud both for advertisers and the complaints it generates to the advertising networks like Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is considerable.
It’s useful to go into the subject of click fraud with online advertising, learn what it is and see how it can be prevented. Let’s do that now.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud can be where an ad click is generated maliciously to increase the advertising campaign cost to a competitor, to generate ad click revenue for your own site(s), or by using an automated bot to generate clicks. Any of these scenarios increase the number of clicks on the advert without any genuine interest in what is being advertised or promoted.
From an advertisers’ standpoint, click fraud costs them additional expenses because they may pay for clicks that were never going to result in a possible action like a newsletter opt-in or sale that they were seeking. Advertising networks like Google with their AdWords and AdSense programs specifically ban customers where they detect click fraud and warn new publishers to not ask friends to click ads on their behalf to make more money. Google takes it seriously and so should you.
How is Click Fraud Detected?
Ad campaigns when repeated over time have a reasonable range of expected results. For instance, a typical ad for a particular product may result in a 2% click-through rate (what percentage of ads are clicked per 100 people). While different ads have more or less appeal which affects the click-through rate, when running the same ad over time or one for a similar product or in the same industry, long-term trends are understood about click rates. It becomes a predictable science.
For networks like AdWords, seeing the percentage of click-throughs for a campaign leap up significantly with little appreciable increase in conversions (ad clicks leading to an opt-in or a sale) suggests malicious intent. It could be a glitch; a competitor meddling or click fraud by a third-party for an unknown purpose. However, it’s fairly obvious when it happens. Sometimes companies can use white label online advertising detection to provide monitoring and protect against issues to avoid having future problems with the ad network.
Use Different Ad Bid Pricing
For advertisers concerned about runaway costs of a campaign that suffers click fraud, try reducing the bid prices per click to limit the cost per 100 future clicks. It’s also possible to place limits on where the ads are shown by restricting which sites publish them and those that are not permitted to do so.
When running an active ad campaign, it’s imperative to keep a close eye on it. Look at the type of clicks being generated and whether they result in a typical percentage of desired actions like signups or sales. Find realistic comparisons to compare apples to apples, so you know what to look for and can understand when things look “out of whack.”
Check the balance on the account. When it starts dropping quickly because the ad clicks have shot up, be aware of that. If you’re busy, assign someone else the responsibility to keep a watch on the account to ensure nothing goes wrong. If you have real issues, discuss them with the advertising network representatives. Only run ads during office hours when they can be monitored fully and disable the campaign out of hours.
Avoiding click fraud is important for everyone involved with online advertising. Google is serious enough about it that they don’t even allow drop-down menus to overlap advertisements on a web page to avoid accidental clicks on the ad (instead of the menu) that could be misconstrued as intentional click fraud. Taking the necessary steps to avoid it and deal with it if it occurs is important for business owners who wish to take full advantage of online advertising now and in the future.