Click Fraud 101: Know Your Lingo
It's a problem that affects just about every industry. You're having a conversation with a customer and you can see it in their eyes, you lost them. You've completely confused them. Was it something you said? Almost certainly yes. It can be really easy to forget that not everyone speaks the language specific to you company. We know we're guilty of it here at ClickGuard and have been known to cause a few puzzled faces of our own.
If you've been reading some of these blog posts, and you really can't tell your botnets from your proxies then this is the place for you. We've assembled a handy guide to the jargon we've come to use as second nature. So, without further ado, let's begin our class.
Terms of the trade
PPC: stands for pay-per-click. A form of online advertising where the advertiser pays a publisher of their advert for every interaction with it.
Impression advertising: A more basic from of online marketing where the publisher of a given advert receives payment for every time their advertisement is even seen. Impression advertising is particularly easy to fake traffic for, as such it is usually much cheaper for advertisers than PPC.
Conversion: When a visitor to your pay-per-click or impression advert actually makes a purchase through following the link on the advert itself. High conversion rates are the stuff of online advertisers' dreams.
Bot: A piece of software designed to do a function and usually replicate a human. For the purposes of our industry, we usually refer to bots that have been programmed to appear as human visitors to advertiser's websites. In any case bots are usually designed with malicious intent.
Botnet: A group of bots working together to achieve a common goal. Again, for our blog posts we will mostly refer to botnets as conglomerates of computers running undetected programs performing visits to PPC advertising campaigns. Botnets make the huge figures of billions annually possible for the scammers.
Ad Fraud/Click Fraud/PPC spam: All refer to the practice of providing unwanted clicks. The purpose of these is to usually undermine the competition through economic espionage (wasting their ad budgets), or to fraudulently appropriate funds for publishers.
Hacker: Essentially a cyber criminal. Can be involved in data sharing for a number of reasons (think WikiLeaks, or credit card fraud), or a covert programmer creating online scams (think click fraud).
Malware: A piece of malicious software intended to infect a users computer. Malware can be programmed to perform many different tasks. It can snoop on your details, it can lock up your computer, or it can turn it into a zombie click bot, wreaking havoc over advertising campaign to the tune of billions.
VPN: A Virtual Private Network. A tool used by the security conscious, and hacker community to conceal their identity online. Often used in click fraud scams, making the detection of the perpetrators even tougher for us here at ClickGuard.