You’ve worked hard to create and design your new ad campaign, and your ads have just gone live. However, a big problem arises: a huge number of Internet users click on your ads, but you don’t see any validated sales on your website.
It is possible that you are a victim of what is called click fraud. This is a worrying phenomenon that advertisers need to be aware of, as it is estimated that fraudulent clicks cost them almost $6 billion per year worldwide, and this can obviously jeopardize your PPC campaigns and your entire marketing strategy.
What is click fraud?
When you run a PPC (Pay Per Click) ad on Google or another platform, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. If you’ve done your homework, you can expect a certain number of those clicks to turn into a sale, or to validate another goal you’ve set for yourself.
According to recent studies, the average conversion rate for mobile ads on Google is around 3.5%. So it’s reasonable to expect to make three sales every hundred clicks. If you see that your visitors start clicking on your ad without any intention of making a purchase or engaging in any way, there’s something wrong.
This is called click fraud, and it can become a real problem for advertisers.
Because when people or bots fraudulently click on your ads, it means you’re paying for clicks that aren’t real, and your daily ad spend goes up in smoke, without you reaching your target audience.
Click fraud is a phenomenon that search engines – starting with Google – are starting to take seriously, and they have implemented a number of tools and solutions to try to combat it. The main problem is that click fraud is still very difficult to detect. So unfortunately, it’s still possible that people or bots are clicking on your ads and messing with your daily ad budget.
The different types of click fraud
The principle behind click fraud is very simple: someone clicks on your PPC ads with the intention of making you lose money. So why?
There are two main types of click fraud: click fraud by competitors and click fraud by publishers.
- Click fraud by competitors
How would you feel if your competitors spent a lot of money on advertising and got nothing in return?
We wouldn’t mind so much, on the contrary. The problem is that some bad companies make sure that this actually happens.
So your competitors stand to gain from fraudulently clicking on your ads for two reasons.
First, it means you’re paying for clicks that have no chance of converting, and second, it means you’re wasting your daily ad spend much more quickly. The result is that there is much less competition in the ad market when running their own ads later in the day.
These fraudulent clicks can also impact your ad score: your ads will run less often and your CPC (Cost Per Click) will increase.
- Click fraud by publishers
Your competitors benefit from click fraud by undermining you, but there is also another player who directly benefits from fraudulent clicks on your ads: the ad publisher.
If you run display ads on third-party websites, the publisher receives a percentage of what you pay for each click. Thus, the increasing number of clicks on your ads directly results in increased revenue for them.
You may be surprised to learn these facts, but there have been a few stories of large-scale ad fraud in recent years.
How to know if click fraud is affecting your website
To be successful with Pay Per Click advertising, you need to be able to interpret data. It is with the help of data that you can fine tune your PPC strategy and it is also a way to determine if click fraud is affecting your website.
To find out if you are a victim of ad fraud, you need to see what happens once users click on your ad and where those clicks come from. To do this, collect the following:
Time stamp of clicks
Timestamp of actions
This information will help you identify a large number of clicks that may be coming from the same person but never lead to an action.
If you see a lot of clicks from the same IP address, it should raise suspicions. Then take care to check the IP address on a site like www.whatismyip.com to see where those clicks are coming from.
While those who engage in this type of click fraud have ways of hiding important information about themselves, these tips will still have the benefit of telling you if you are being targeted, and prompting you to make decisions.
If you have any suspicions, contact Google to report the problem so they can investigate it.
Why is it important to fight click fraud?
You have many options when it comes to advertising, but you’ve chosen PPC because it offers a nice ROI. Nevertheless, if you fall victim to click fraud, you won’t see a return on your investment.
What’s worse is that your competitors, whether they are the ones doing the click fraud or not, will take advantage of your difficulties.
That’s why it’s important that Google and other search engines put in place mechanisms that can stop this phenomenon, because they also have an interest in advertisers continuing to use their platform without having to worry about “fake” clicks.
Click fraud is a concern for many advertisers. According to PPC Protect, 11% of all clicks on paid search and 36% of clicks on display ads are fraudulent. So it’s not a minor problem that major internet and digital marketing players can afford to ignore.
4 steps to prevent click fraud
Click fraud can be difficult to detect, but there are steps you can take to prevent it, or limit its impact on your campaigns.
Here are four steps you can take to limit the impact of click fraud on your PPC ads:
1- Set up IP address exclusions on Google Ads
If you’ve analyzed your data and believe that certain IP addresses are clicking fraudulently on your ads, you can block them by adding them to an exclusion list in your Google Ads account.
2- Focus on ad targeting
Focus on your target audiences and tighten up your ad strategy as much as possible. The more your ad is shown to people outside your target audience, the more likely it is to attract the attention of fraudsters.
3- Think about ads on social networks
Ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram are less keyword-driven, which means they are harder to search. With smart targeting, these platforms still give you value for money, and they are less attractive to fraudsters.
4- Use click fraud protection software
If you think click fraud is costing you a lot of money, then it makes sense to invest in protecting your ads. Keep an eye on your data and results, and then evaluate whether the protection software improves your ROAS and is worth the investment.