A 'zombie squad' of bots (and bot farms) are going to pinch $7.2 BN from PPC this year?

August 19, 2020
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Mitigating the threat of bot farms

PPC campaigns are great avenues for bringing customers to your company as long as you’re cautious about preventing bot farms from thwarting your efforts. What are bot farms and why should you pay attention to them? When you invest your time and energy in a PPC campaign, you want to know that you’re getting the right results and that you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely.

What Are Bots? Are They The Zombies?

Bots are also called internet bots, web robots, and robots. Software applications use bots to run automated scripts over the internet. Are you aware that over half of all web traffic is generated by bots? Bots are instrumental for performing simple, repetitive tasks faster than humans can do on their own. 

Web crawlers use bots to glean and analyze files and information from web servers.

clicks from bot farms can destroy your ad campaigns

So, What are Bot Farms?

Bot farms use networks of computers running scripts to automate certain processes. Bot farms can interact with a website to deceptively boost the number of likes to fraudulently elevate the status of a client’s website, service, or product. Bot farms operate undercover, and they perform actions such as giving likes, clicking on ads and following social media accounts. They can drain your PPC campaigns frustrating your efforts to reach your target customer. As a consequence, your budget will be wasted and your campaign won't provide ROI. Online app stores use bot farms widely to manipulate positions and increase positive reviews and ratings.

Lets Use Social Media an an Example

How Bots Work on Social Media

Consider the customer’s perspective of someone that’s looking for a certain product. If they’re doing their homework, they’ll be checking out the company’s website, social media accounts, and reviews to see if other people like and use the product. If there’s not much there, the customer will probably be inclined to leave the site and check out the competition’s following to see if it’s better. 

This type of situation motivated companies to purchase “likes” and “follows”. Social media bots make their products and services appear to be the most popular on the market. Bot farms profit by being paid to like and click on websites and social media platforms at a site owner’s request. 

The downside to this is that while bot farms boost a company’s online presence, it places them in direct competition with other companies using the same fraudulent strategy. In the end, bot fraud doesn’t reflect integrity in your brand. 

Just how prevalent are bot farms? Twitter makes $60-$70 million per year on ads. Facebook has been known to make $100 million a year. Instagram is currently the most desirable market for bad bots and invalid clicks with profits that exceed Facebook and Twitter combined. 

What Is PPC Bot Traffic and How Can It Affect Your Campaign?

Bot farms can streamline their endeavours by using bots to create PPC bot traffic. PPC bot traffic is a particular type of bot fraud that makes use of software applications to release bots over the internet to click on your PPC campaigns automatically. 

Certain platforms like Google Ads, Bing Advertising, Media.net, etc. are big targets for click fraud. Bot farms are also known for using a proxy or VPN provider to mask the IP address, making it more difficult to detect fraud. The end result is that non-human visitors are deceptively inflating likes and clicks. 

When used honestly, bots can be beneficial for monitoring your ad placements and checking your website for consistency.

On the contrary, bots can perform repetitive tasks in rapid succession, and they can negatively impact a massive amount of PPC campaigns very quickly. 

Bot farms maliciously and needlessly drive up the cost of your PPC advertising budget delaying your marketing efforts to drive the opportunity to your business. 

Bad Bots & Click Fraud

You need to be concerned about bad bots and click fraud when you set up a PPC campaign because you pay for every click that a bot gives your advertisement and it gives you zero return on your investment. 

Consider the simple but problematic issues this can cause you:

  • Runs up the cost of your PPC campaigns frustrating growth
  • Your ads will be less profitable with no sustainable CPC
  • They use up your advertising budget early in the day and real people won’t find you
  • Bot traffic makes it hard to assess the ROI on your PPC campaigns
  • Lack of transparency hindering good decision making
consquences of dealing with bot farms

According to Business Insider, the advertising industry lost over $7 billion in 2016. This was 4 years ago, can you imagine 2021?

With bots crawling all over the internet, how can you prevent from being the newest victim of bot traffic?

The answer surrounding PPC bot traffic is to identify when bot traffic is attacking your campaigns. You can learn a lot about it by paying careful attention to the metrics and analytics of your website traffic and your ad campaigns. 

Look for these signs of malicious bot traffic:

  • Extraordinarily high click-through rates as compared with previous PPC campaigns
  • Unusually low engagement rates with low session rates and a high rate of bounces
  • Large spikes in traffic during off-peak times
  • Unusually high traffic on your web pages that utilize PPC
Tell tale signs you are a victim of click fraud commited by bot farms

These are the red flags that inform you about how to adjust your PPC ad campaigns to sidestep nefarious traffic in the future. When you identify bot traffic, you can set up an IP exclusion to block malicious bot traffic that originates from the same location. 

Use a Click Fraud Prevention Tool

Bot traffic not only costs you money, but it also costs you time in trying to prevent attacks. ClickGUARD is a click fraud prevention tool that can protect your PPC campaign from bot traffic attacks. 

Bot farms don't just cost you money, they frustrate progress...

ClickGUARD works immediately to successfully prevent bot traffic from driving up click fraud costs. It will save you hours of time from manually searching for bot traffic and trying to get rid of it. 

When you put the time and money into a PPC campaign, you want your ads to reach real people with real needs for your products and services. This is the true key to gaining an edge over your competition. If your PPC campaign budget is bursting and not getting results, you can implement ClickGUARD seamlessly and mitigate instantly bot traffic and invalid clicks right away and put your time and money to good use. 

Jason is a passionate data-driven specialist with extensive PPC & SEO experience. When not writing about SEM he can be found surfboarding the wildest ocean waves of the Argentinian coast.