Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is widely regarded as one of the best investments a digital marketer can make. Google estimates an average $2 return for every $1 spent on Google Ads, while a recent study found that PPC website visitors are 50% more likely to make a purchase than organic visitors.
PPC advertising can improve a campaign’s reach, while providing valuable real-time data and analytics allowing spend monitoring, and immediate adjustments in response to the information garnered from advertising clicks.
However, click (PPC) fraud – the fraudulent clicking of PPC advertisements to generate charges – is a growing problem for advertisers and marketing professionals. Click fraud can come from many different sources. Sometimes a rival company will hire a click farm, where people click on a competitor’s advertisements all day; in other instances, click fraud is generated automatically by malware such as botnets or ad injections to generate revenue.
Regardless of the method used, click fraud is serious. Data shows that a large proportion of clicks are determined to be falsified, allowing click fraud to hurt marketing campaign performance. Here's how it works:
How Click Fraud Hurts You
The most immediate impact of click fraud is that of falsified charges to the advertiser. Fake charges drain the advertiser’s budget, with significant costs to the business. In fact, one estimates the cost of click fraud at $42 billion in 2019, a number that could grow over $100 billion by 2023.
Click fraud costs companies in more ways than their current budget, however; it also misrepresents marketing data, changing the information that marketers use for data-driven decision making. Clicks without conversions skew conversion data, which affects campaign metrics as well as current and future strategy.
Wasted future ad spend
Not only does click fraud waste a companies money out of their current advertising budget, the fact that data is distorted causes waste in future spend as well, as marketers change campaign strategies in response to counterfeit data.
Daily limit reached
If an advertiser has placed a daily limit on clicks with a PPC ad, click fraud can cause that limit to be reached very quickly, leading to a competitor’s advertisement surfacing in place of the original ad. This could have long-term effects on a company’s customer base.
What Can You Do?
There are steps that can be taken to protect your company – and your budget – from click fraud. Because click fraud can take many forms, and is hidden inside of legitimate data, it can be difficult to detect.