December 23, 2016 | by Vuk Stan

The Brief Guide to Click Fraud

Click fraud affects most online advertisers at some point. Even with the most thought-out advertising campaigns, the threat of unwanted clicks to a company's ROI is a very real one. Surveys estimate that upwards of 40% of the clicks on advertiser's links can be attributed to the malicious practice. With the combined annual bill costing literally billions, it's no surprise that advertisers are always on the hunt for an effective weapon against it.

 

The Face of the Threat

Click fraud is simply an unwanted click on an advertisers link. These can be attributed to various potential culprits. Common ways to benefit from pay-per-click spamming are by undermining a competitor's advertising campaign, or by falsifying visits to a page from your own publication.

 

Competitors

If you're company is advertising a product online, it is unlikely that you'll be the only ones offering it. As such, you have competition. One form of click fraud occurs when one of these competitors decides to try and sabotage your campaign in order to unfairly gain a large market share of the advertising for a given product.

The idea is simple. Make your competitor waste all their daily advertising budget at as early possible, clearing the web of traces of their product. A good way of identifying this kind of click fraud is if your advertising budget seems exhausted suspiciously early each day.

 

Publishers

Those that publish your advertisements might also try to sabotage your campaign for your own gain. To the smaller sites you might have deals with, you probably seem like some huge faceless corporation and they're just playing a bit of Robin Hood but in reality, it is fraud and it is illegal.

 

Publishers' attacks on your sites are common because they get paid for every click from their site to your advert. They are also less concerned with maxing out your budget as quickly as possible so their attacks will likely be more sporadic than those committed by your competitors. This will also make them harder to detect.

 

Spambots and VPNs

With there being so much cash on the line with click fraud, it is not surprising that those who commit it have devised increasingly devious methods to go about the practice. Both spambots (or botnets), and VPNs (virtual private networks) are effective weapons that the click fraudster has in their arsenal.

 

Spambots or botnets are essentially infected computers working either alone, or more commonly in sync (botnet). These machines will “visit” websites without their owners knowing. When many infected computers combine together they can wreak absolute havoc with advertisers ROIs.

Botnets are created when a negligent user accidentally downloads a piece of malware, rendering part of their machine to the control of the malware programmer.

 

VPNs can be used to hide a computer's IP address. This is particularly troublesome for those wishing to combat click fraud because one of the main tools used to identify a potential fraudster is traditionally their IP address.

 

Combating Click Fraud

Combating click fraud alone is not easy. As we've shown the perpetrators are using more sophisticated techniques than ever before to disrupt advertising campaigns for their own gain. Owing to the amount of data that you might need to analyze, and the potential for human error, the practice might not even be worth it. Many people do dismiss click fraud as “the cost of doing business” after all.

 

The guys at ClickGuard however, feel differently. They see the injustice of what the fraudsters are currently getting away with and think it's time it ended. The click fraud prevention package they've assembled is an effective way of improving the performance of an AdWords campaign.

Using sophisticated criteria to analyze the location, IP addresses, and devices used to make the clicks on your advertisements, and automatic response options Click guard make dealing with perpetrators a breeze.

 

The time you save by using a piece of third-party software to deal with your click fraud means you can focus on the more creative aspects of your campaign. This in turn will allow you to perfect how your landing page appeals to your actual living, breathing customers.