Monsters of Advertising Fraud: Click Fraud

Matt Donahue - October, 25 2017

Click fraud doesn’t discriminate. It’s a global problem that you can’t outrun. Like horror villain Michael Myers, it will keep coming for you.

It feeds off the clicks generated by non-authentic sources (e.g. bot farms, botnets, individuals being paid to click ads). As it sucks the money out of advertisers’ pockets, in turn, that money lines the pockets of fraudsters who control the monster.

How You Become a Victim

Let’s say you run a music subscription website. But when everyone uses Spotify or Apple Music, it’s hard to compete. So, to drive some more traffic to your service, you decide to run a pay per click ad campaign.

You take the time to optimize the keywords for your campaign and craft the perfect landing page. But then you notice something is off. Your ad has been clicked 1,500 times, yet only five people signed up. What’s going on?

You dig deeper into your analytics. It looks like most of these clicks only stayed on your landing page for two seconds. And the majority of them came from the same IP address.

Sorry, but you’re the latest victim of click fraud.

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How It Hurts You

Those clicks weren’t human, most likely they were bots. Sure, they’ll make your click count rise, but they won’t convert subscribers for your music service. And now you’re paying more money to the advertiser and not making anything in return.

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Source: Giphy

Click fraud is like feeding a vampire. You’re being forced to pay more per conversion than you normally would. But you’re ultimately paying for dead leads, which kills your bottomline.

How to Identify Click Fraud

When even Google states in their terms and conditions that you’re responsible for up to a 10% discrepancy in ad impressions due to fraud, you know identifying click fraud isn’t easy. It lurks in the shadows and takes on many forms, and third-party companies all have different ways of identifying fraud.

Related Post: 3 Signs You Have an Ad Fraud Problem

But there are signs to look for.

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Source: Giphy

Keep your eyes peeled for a sudden, huge spike in clicks, with no change in conversions. Or out of the blue, you get a large influx of traffic from a foreign country. These scenarios typically indicate fraud is occurring.

How to Slay the Monster

Do your homework before taking the plunge. You wouldn’t date someone without Googling them first. Why would you invest your hard-earned dollars with a company you know nothing about?

Related Post: 5 Ad Fraud Questions All Media Buyers Need to Ask

Remember the most reputable advertising networks often have the tools needed to combat click fraud. These include traffic monitoring systems for those cases of fraud that aren’t easily identifiable. They can identify patterns in bot traffic better than humans.  

Keep in mind that you can't stop all click fraud, unfortunately. But you can soften the blow by investing with the most trustworthy source, so you get the most bang for your buck. 

Matt Donahue

Matt Donahue is Sales Manager for the ad fraud management platform, Anura, as well as the digital advertising firm eZanga. With a decade of experience in internet technology and digital advertising, Matt has amassed record results for clients and agencies looking to expand their digital marketing efforts. He emphasizes digital media integration and has a deep understanding of the effect digital ad quality has on a client's advertising campaign. In his spare time, he enjoys rooting on the San Francisco 49ers and is the father to two young children.