Pay-per-click advertising has been the go-to digital marketing method for decades now. PPC has grown into a massive segment of the advertising space. Pay per click search ad spending is expected to reach $191 billion by 2024. (Statista)
With so much money being spent in this highly technical space, it’s also become a lucrative target for fraudsters. Click fraud has been a problem from the start, and has only increased with time. So how can you detect and prevent ad fraud in your PPC campaigns?
What Is Click Fraud and How Does It Work?
Click fraud is a form of advertising fraud where technology is used to inflate clicks on pay per click ads. This could be perpetrated by devious affiliates seeking quick earnings, fraudsters willing to use their technical knowledge for nefarious purposes, or even the publishers themselves to increase ad revenue.
Often, the first sign of this is a rapid reduction in ad budgets without an increase in conversions. This costs digital marketers billions every year in lost ad spend. So how might a fraudster attack your PPC campaign with click fraud?
One of the most common types of click fraud is botnets. This is a network of real user computers controlled by fraudsters using malware. These zombie computers are directed to drain an advertiser's budget by generating fraudulent clicks unbeknownst to the owner of the machine.
This form of click fraud is extremely hard to detect, because the source IP addresses of the clicks come from real but infected visitor computers. Because of this, IP address blacklisting efforts are less effective. By leveraging the real user's history, cookies, and profile, fraudsters are able to hide behind a well-defined visitor profile with a history of real conversions.
Click farms are sort of like a human version of botnets. Rather than controlling computers with malware, fraudsters hire workers in developing countries to click on digital ads all day. Because real human visitors are used in this strategy, it can be incredibly tough to catch this type of click fraud.
When your computer becomes infected with malware, it could be used for ad injection. While you browse on websites, the malware injects ads into them without anyone’s consent. If you click on the ads, the advertiser gets charged. This drastically reduces the effectiveness of the ads, since audiences aren’t defined and targeted.
Another form of click fraud is when fraudsters create replica websites with nearly identical URLs. These fake sites are then filled with ads to generate fraudulent clicks. This is known as “domain spoofing.” If you’ve ever landed on a website that looks identical to a major site like Target or Best Buy but it has a URL with a .net instead of .com at the end, you’ve seen domain spoofing first-hand.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Click Fraud?
So how do you prevent click fraud, and what are the best practices for click fraud detection? As you can see, fraudsters leverage technology in crafty ways that can be next to impossible to detect with the human eye. For starters, working only with reputable advertising platforms can help prevent your ads from being targeted by click fraud. Although the prospect of getting massive reach for a low price sounds attractive, it often comes at the cost of click fraud.
That said, click fraud can still afflict any PPC advertising campaign. The only real way to detect it quickly enough to take action is by leveraging machine learning. That’s where Anura comes in. By analyzing hundreds of data points and IP addresses in real-time, PPC advertisers can act in real-time to stop click fraud in its tracks.
Protect Your Business from the Impacts of Click Fraud
Anura delivers a powerful solution for fighting click fraud. Using our integration, you can detect and prevent click fraud to maximize your campaign ROI. Enjoy the peace of mind that you’re not paying for clicks generated by fraudsters. Get started with a free trial today.