How To Prevent Pay-Per-Click Fraud On Your Website Advertising
Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) is a digital marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website. There are several types of PPC campaigns advertisers use to grab your attention, and if you spend most of your time online, you’ve undoubtedly come across some of them. The most popular ones are Google Ads, Search Advertising, Display Advertising, and Social Media Advertising.
PPC advertising works differently from other forms of digital marketing because it is user-initiated, meaning the PPC ad’s business gets charged every time users click on their ad. As a result, PPC advertising is an effective way to make a website rank at the top of search engine results while targeting a specific niche market. However, despite its effectiveness, PPC advertising can be less efficient due to the risk of fraud and exploitation that can render the campaign useless.
What is Click Fraud?
The best way to describe click fraud is to use illegal activities to inflate the number of clicks a PPC advertisement receives. This type of fraud is different from other scams, like identity theft or recruitment fraud. At least when your data is concerned, using an identity monitoring service can help mitigate the risk associated with criminals stealing your details. But with PPC fraud, a click farm half a world away could be causing you thousands in ad expenses without you ever knowing about it.
Now, you may be wondering what the incentive is for people involved in this form of crime. For ad publishers, clicking on the ads displayed on their websites can generate income, provided they don’t get caught and banned. But unfortunately, some unethical advertisers commit click fraud to drive up the competition’s advertising costs or make them blow their PPC budget caps early in the day.
3 Signs That You’re a Victim of Click Fraud.
1. Suspiciously High Click-Through Rates.
When your PPC campaign generates a high click-through rate (CTR), but all the traffic comes from a group of similar or identical IP addresses in the exact location, and you have zero conversions, someone is messing with your ads. Closely monitoring your PPC campaign and running analytics can help weed out the fraudulent clicks, so you don’t have to pay for them.
2. Your Ad Spending is Getting Bigger, But Sales Stay The Same.
If you notice that your PPC ad budget is gone way before the end of your campaign’s timeline, there’s a good chance that your competitors are committing click fraud against you. Pause your ad campaigns the minute you notice this trend so you can examine what happened to your funds. More prominent companies can take the hit as click fraud drains their ad budget, but small to medium-sized companies cannot. Using a shorter timeline for your ads to run can help, as it only gives fraudsters a short window to attack.
3. Lower Than Average Conversion Rate.
If you notice a spike in PPC impressions coupled with a disproportionate number of conversions, you may be the victim of click fraud. Unethical business practices include hiring click farms and using a VPN to make it harder for the victim to track where the clicks are coming from. Examine metrics such as the length of time people browse your store or if they visited your page at all.
How to Prevent Click Fraud.
Here are a few ways to help prevent click fraud from happening:
- Using Twitter and Facebook Ads, cut out third-party publishers, and your ads will only show on these platforms, based on specific keywords you choose. As a result, competitors will have a harder time looking for your ads.
- Remarketing campaigns work because your ads are only displayed to users who visited your site or showed interest.
- Use the “IP Exclusions” setting in Google Ads and block known IP addresses associated with click fraud.
- Tweaking your Ad Targeting can filter invalid clicks. For example, click farms are usually located in third-world countries. If you suspect that a particular geo-location is committing click fraud, you can exclude these locations and their respective languages.
If you’re running a PPC ad campaign and experience many clicks that never convert into customers, you may be a victim of click fraud. Your best defense is keeping a watchful eye on your ad campaigns and using the preventive measures above to try and prevent it from happening.
Daniel William is a Cyber Security Expert. His great passion is to maintain the safety of the organization’s online systems and networks. He knows that both individuals and businesses face the constant challenge of cyber threats. Identifying and preventing these attacks is a priority for Daniel. You can reach Daniel on Linkedin.