Click fraud is running rampant online. Pay-per-click advertisers are at risk of wasting their advertising budget to the malicious practice and therefore must constantly search for a solution that will save their funds from being appropriated by cyber criminals and greedy advertising publishers.
What exactly is click fraud?
Click fraud, or PPC spamming, or online ad fraud, is a criminal act whereby people “fake” traffic to pay-per-click advertising campaigns for their own gain. Cyber criminals make use of high-tech malicious software, and advanced anti-tracking techniques to disguise their activities and simulate website visits.
This is a profitable endeavor because of the agreements advertisers and publishers come up with between themselves. Known as Pay-Per-Click advertising, the model is vulnerable to exploitation because a publisher is paid every time a site visitor interacts with an advertisers link.
This means that is someone is savvy enough to convincingly fake traffic to a site they can in fact receive payment for every one of these “clicks”. The average annual cost of click fraud is well into the billions of dollars, so lack of incentive is clearly not a problem for the fraudsters.
Who benefits from click fraud?
There are two main types of click fraud. While the actual process of committing the fraudulent clicks is the same in both, it is those the benefit who differ.
Your competitors could launch a click fraud attack against you. Here, the purpose would be to deplete your advertising budget as quickly as possible. The effect it has is double-fold. Firstly, after your budget is exhausted, your advert will no longer display on the publications you have brokered deals with.
This of course is damaging to a company, who quickly deplete their funds but receive no human interest in their product. Not only does it limit the number of sales a company can make, it also frees up potentially lucrative advertising slots for the perpetrators company, meaning their own sales will receive a boost at the expense of yours. Sneaky, eh?
Advertising publishers themselves can also be guilty of falsifying clicks for financial gain. This is possibly the most common example of click fraud that we see, and there are several high profile cases in which hackers have got away with millions of dollars from unaware advertisers. The premise here is that a publisher buys, or generates traffic through some illicit means and makes their site look very popular. This leads to advertising interest, and then the same methods of attracting clients are used to defraud said partners out of their advertising budgets.
Detecting and fighting click fraud
In order to detect click fraud, it takes a skilled, trained eye to inspect an advertiser's click data and successfully identify suspicious visits. For the medium or small business owner seeking to make use of PPC advertising, the time consuming nature of the analysis, the training of staff, and the possibility of human error makes the task a daunting, almost unapproachable one.
Enter a third-party like ClickGuard. These industry specialists can take the hassle out of policing click fraud on your advertising campaigns. They use sophisticated software to identify, and automatically block those suspected of being illegitimate. If you think you're the victim of PPC spamming, you could do a lot worse than get professional help for your advertising campaign today.