How to Protect Your Paid Ads from Click Fraud

Contributed content / By Roy Dovaston / 14 October 2019

In recent years, many organizations have fallen victim to fraudulent click activity, causing substantial financial loss. Every pay-per-click (PPC) campaign deserves complete protection against click fraud. 

With online sales and promotions on the rise, business owners depend on PPC advertising programs such as Google AdWords to direct traffic and custom towards their company.

As shown in the infographic below, around 25% of the world’s online traffic is disguised by a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which makes fraudsters extremely difficult to locate and around 20% of bots contributed click fraud.

Click Fraud Statistics

These statistics above show the prominence of click fraud, like how one study recorded a high 227% increase in the number of cases of click-fraud between the years of 2016 and 2018.

Click fraud is a pressing concern and, if left unattended, can result in a total financial disaster. This is why it is crucial to identify and catch the fraudsters early on. 

If you believe that you have been the victim of click fraud, there are several steps you can take to protect your paid ads. The likelihood of completely eradicating the chance of becoming a click fraud victim is low; however, with the right support and tips, you can minimize the damage and financial worry. 

This article explains the costs of click fraud and gives 4 steps to prevent it.

How to Protect Your Paid Ads from Click Fraud

  1. Monitor user behavior
  2. Target industry-specific keywords
  3. Outline your budget
  4. Use a fraud prevention service

Click Fraud Costs Advertisers Thousands Each Year

Click fraud is illegal and is a form of cybercrime. Click fraud usually occurs when either a person or a robot repeatedly clicks on your paid ads, intending to cause deliberate financial stress. The effects of click-fraud can be devastating, costing advertisers thousands of pounds each year to resolve. 

Not only does this affect the volume of authentic traffic, but many advertisers have lost confidence in online PPC campaigns. Back in 2006, Google and Yahoo were obliged to pay back millions to companies who were wrongfully victims of click fraud. 

There are two main reasons why click fraud occurs. The first and most common reason is competition between other advertisers. Organizations in the same industry or market may attempt to sabotage their rival’s paid ads by committing click fraud. 

This can impact the advertiser massively, as the fraudsters will continue to drain money from their opponents advertising budgets. Though the competition will not gain financially from committing the fraud, they can sabotage their rivals' business by draining their paid ad budget quicker. 

Advertising publishers create the second common intention behind click fraud. They may want to increase the charges for hosting various advertisements. The advertisement web host can artificially increase the number of clicks, resulting in higher fees for the service user. 

Detecting Click Fraud Can Be Difficult

While there are systems in place to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of click fraud, more needs to be done to eradicate the issue altogether. It can be quite challenging to determine if your business is being affected by click fraud, although there are a few noticeable signs to look out for. Here are some prominent symptoms of click fraud:

  • The most common trace of click fraud activity is sudden and unexpected rises in the number of clicks. 
  • There may also be intermittent periods of rapid movement and extremely high volumes of clicks being recorded, followed by unstable and relatively quiet periods. 
  • You might even recognize a significant quantity of clicks from countries around the world, especially ones where your business does not operate. 

The following steps will help you spot fraudulent behavior early on, resulting in a better chance of eliminating the problem. 

1. Monitor User Behavior

The first way to minimize click fraud is to identify it. Get into the habit of monitoring your user behavior regularly by checking your PPC statistics daily. Not only will you get a better understanding of which keywords and ads are attracting the most traffic, but you can also spot suspicious activity at an early stage. 

Over time, you will gradually gain an insight into your user engagement statistics and have a better judge of what would be classed as unusual behavior. 

2. Target Industry-Specific Keywords

When you are establishing your PPC campaign, think carefully about the keywords you’re using. Keywords play an essential role in attracting the right kind of users, while also deterring competitors from fraudulent activity. Make sure that you use your budget wisely and only bid on targeted keywords that are specific to your service and industry. 

These particular keywords will generate the highest volume of traffic and ensure that the majority of your user engagement is from authentic customers. You may wish to use online web tools such as SEMrush to help you research appropriate keywords. 

3. Outline Your Budget

Once you have established which keywords are best suited to your PPC campaign, you must set a budget. Set yourself a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) allowance to reduce the chances of falling victim to click fraud. This means that your online advertisement will not exceed the allocated budget so that you won't face unexpected service charges.

Consider doing this daily so that you are made aware of the maximum price you will be charged each day.

4. Using a Fraud Prevention Service

When your PPC campaign is up and running, you'll want to protect it. One great way to preserve your advertisement and reduce the risk of falling victim to click fraud is to use a click fraud prevention service such as Click Guardian, which offers user-friendly dashboards to monitor campaigns. 

Click Guardian Dashboard

Users can track the total amount of paid visits, page his, and total blocks performed by the service, all shown on the dashboard above. 

You might believe Google Ads will help to combat click fraud.  However, their invalid click system is very limited, meaning a lot of invalid clicks slip through.

Using a fraud prevention service such as Click Guardian or investing in other cybersecurity measures means that business owners will be able to take back the reins on the situation and actively protect their PPC campaign. 

Take Back Control from Fraudsters 

If you’re a business that uses paid ads, protecting your business from fraudulent clicks and monitoring the situation is highly important. Don’t allow fraudsters to impact your business and cause you immense financial stress.

More and more cases of click fraud are rapidly rising, so taking adequate precautions early on will help you overcome the issue.

Businesses should keep an eye on user behavior to spot fraud early, target industry-specific keywords to protect their brand, set a clear budget, and invest in fraud prevention services.

By taking preventative actions today and following these crucial steps, you’ll be doing yourself, your business, and your sales a favor in the long run.

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