Click fraud is a genuine concern for anybody who is doing CPC or PPC marketing.
So, what is Click fraud?
Click fraud involves any artificially created click on your ad, and a human being can formulate these clicks, or a software program called clickbait can obtain them.
Click fraud costs you money.
These clicks, regrettably, cost you money.
The hard part is recognizing click fraud. To do this, you need to monitor your campaigns continually, keeping a vigilant eye out for any irregularities. You need to pay attention to your Google campaign‘s established trends and watch for any change in those trends. For example, suppose you have an Adgroup that averages an 8% CTR. Minor differences to this CTR are typical and anticipated. What happens, however, if this Adgroup spikes to a 15% CTR without notice? What do you do?
Investigate where the click fraud came from
Your initial response in such a case is to review any legitimate causes for this spike. For instance, was there some media coverage on your industry that would cause an uptick in searches for your keywords? There can be perfectly rational explanations for sudden traffic spikes. Did you encounter a rise in sales? This is another helpful indicator of real traffic. If your transactions correspond to your traffic, everything should be fine.
If the traffic still seems deceitful, you need to accumulate as much information as possible on the occurrence. Note the period when it happened and what keywords were affected. Check your server logs and look for any suspicious-looking IP addresses or user agents. Once you have collected all the vital information, you need to reach out to Google support and take over the probe. They will want access to your server logs and any other relevant data. They are very good at what they do, and you need to be patient as their investigation can take some time.
For example, at one point, A client had gone away on vacation and had no access to a computer or an Internet connection to observe his campaigns. When they returned, they found the charges and traffic connected with one campaign had spiked dramatically, losing them several thousand dollars. I instantly knew that a click bot hit them, and I reached out to Google, and an inquiry was started about the click fraud. A few months later, the investigation was resolved, and it was established that they were the victim of fraud. Google was able to refund for all the funds the click fraud had cost them, and life went on.
When you spot click fraud
If you spot click fraud, Google is very competent with their investigation, and they will reimburse you if click fraud is indeed proven. If it is determined that click fraud did not occur, you will be explained how this was determined.
Different reasons for click fraud
There are many different reasons for click fraud. The most common is for financial gain, and this usually occurs on the content network. Here people get paid every time someone clicks on a Google Adsense ad on their site. Below are 4 ways your PPC account may be a victim of click fraud.
1. Adsense account holder trying to game the system
Some people get greedy and try generating artificial clicks to make more money. Sometimes they try to click on the ads themselves, but this doesn’t work well because of the repetitive IP address.
2. Software bots creating click fraud
Software programs called click bots might be used. These programs use multiple proxy servers to beat the repetitive IP problem and randomize behavior to make the traffic seem natural. These programs vary in sophistication and are harder to spot.
3. Foreign companies hire people to click.
In the recent past, it was found that there are organizations in countries like India, where employment is very inexpensive, which use real people to click on ads. These people are disbanded in different locations making the IP addresses all distinct and non-proxy. Moreover, they are actual humans, so their actions can seem more natural. This scheme can also be challenging to spot.
4. Your competitor clicking on your ads
Other reasons for click fraud include malicious competitors. In this case, a competitor wants you to either stop advertising on a keyword or lower your bid. This often happens due to bidding wars, and it also usually takes place on the actual search pages.
Any of the various methods of generating artificial clicks can be used, and the result is still the same. Increased costs.
Google has been combating these problems for a while now. There always seems to be a way that these fraudsters evade the tactics thrown at them. This should not deter you from advertising since a good ads manager will spot these issues right away and correct them.
Google Ads is still a great way to get your company in front of the right prospective buyer and will outweigh conventional advertising every time.