May 17, 2022

How to Avoid Click Fraud in PPC Ads


Click fraud is a technique that’s commonly used by competitors or people with malicious intent to harm a particular business. Pay-per-click advertising is an excellent way for companies with extra budgets to receive more traffic. PPC ads are measurable, trackable, and can effectively target specific audiences.

Businesses noticed that by utilizing Google Ads, they earn twice as much as they spent on PPC ads. However, the advantages of this advertising method can be overshadowed by possible adverse outcomes, such as click fraud.

To make the most out of your PPC ad campaigns, you can undertake certain steps to minimize the chances of your business becoming targeted by malicious activities. 

Click fraud explained 


Before we get to the click fraud, it's best to understand the concept of PPC ads. These ads are commonly run on Google, and the idea is simple: Every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay for it. The goal behind running PPC ads is to convert those paid clicks to sales. 

Since the average click-through rate across all industries is 4.1%, it is considered a  profitable technique, and many small and medium enterprises utilize PPC ads. 

Click fraud is a black-hat technique that involves clicking on PPC ads to create higher costs for the company whose advertisement is. Bots or humans do these clicks to drain your advertising budget without making any sales for your business.

There are specific efforts that search engines have started to implement to prevent click fraud. However, you shouldn’t neglect the possible measures you can take to avoid it. 

In certain situations, click fraud can be illegal, but there are slight chances you can take measures as there are no exact ways of proving click fraud. 

Types of click fraud 

Before you decide which click fraud prevention technique is the most suitable, it's best to know what types of click fraud exist. 

Click fraud by competitors

Since founding the first businesses and companies, they have had an overlapping interest. This has ultimately led to them reaching out to various ways of tripping each other. Although some competitors directed each other to perfect their products and improve their relationships with customers, others have decided that a more malicious approach is more effective.

The same patterns can be seen in internet businesses. By using click fraud, your competitors can benefit in multiple ways. Most importantly, clicks that competitors generate certainly won’t lead to sales, wasting your budget and obscuring your analytics.  

The other way competitors benefit is that they are draining your daily budget, which can create space for their ads to show after your stop. Google’s algorithms can detect “low-quality” clicks and show your ad to fewer people. 

Click fraud by publishers

Besides competitors, another party that can profit from fake clicks on your ads is the publisher of your ads. Websites that publish your ads get a percentage of the budget that you’ve spent on Google ads. 

While paid ads will be profitable for you only if your clicks lead to sales, publishers of your ads will receive money no matter what. The best protection against click fraud by publishers is by carefully choosing websites that publish your ads. 

With almost two billion websites on the internet, you can take your time and choose those that look as trustworthy as possible.  

Steps to avoid click fraud in PPC Ads


You can undertake specific steps to minimize the chances of becoming a victim of click fraud. Not all ads have problems with click fraud, yet it can be beneficial to do broad research and understand whether your advertising expenses are larger than what they are supposed to be.

1. Improve ad targeting

Targeting the audience is one of the best methods you can apply to your marketing and advertising efforts. You don’t want to show your ads to a demographic that isn’t interested in your product, and you also want to show them to people who are going to be potential customers.

Besides improving your yearly revenue, ad targeting is a great technique to fight against click fraud. You will increase the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns by targeting countries with the purchasing power to buy the product that doesn’t have language barriers between you and your company. 

Limiting the area in which you will be running a PPC ad campaign lowers the chances of being a target of click fraud. Many “click farms,” or in other words, places from which the fake clicks originate, are located in countries with a lower income. 

To understand where these clicks originate from, you can look at your ads' analytics and see which countries are the sources of potentially fraudulent clicks. You can also exclude addresses that have suspicious behavior individually. 

2. Exclude users using proxy detection

You can try out fraud prevention using proxy detection to protect your business from click fraud. Although just like the previous technique, this one includes excluding a group of people, it will increase your protection against click fraud. 

Proxy detection is a method through which businesses attempt to understand whether their users connect directly or through a proxy. Proxies aren’t used exclusively by fraudsters, as many privacy enthusiasts use them to protect themselves on the web or to increase their internet speed. 

The types of proxies include: 

  • Datacenter proxies
  • Residential proxies
  • Mobile proxies
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  • Internet browsers such as Tor 

Only some of these proxy types are definite sources of fraudulent activities. For example, individuals often use VPNs to protect themselves on the internet.

Services that offer proxy detection calculate the visitor's fraud score and deliver information on how likely the visitor will engage in fraudulent activity. To detect whether someone is accessing your website through a proxy, proxy detection platforms utilize a combination of methods such as blacklist checks, DNS leak tests, ping tests, and others.

3. Carefully choose websites for PPC ads

Google and Yahoo allow you to choose the websites for your ads individually. You don’t have to run advertising campaigns on websites that are low in traffic or seem untrustworthy. As mentioned before, click fraud by publishers is a common way for websites to increase their revenue while diminishing their ROI. 

Besides the shady websites that exploit your ads, certain websites have higher chances of being the target of click fraud than others. It’s up to you to decide which websites are reliable for running ad campaigns. 

4. Use click fraud prevention software

Multiple services specialize in preventing click fraud, and you can subscribe to them on a monthly basis. The pricing of around 50$ a month might be a lot for your company, depending on the size of your enterprise. 

Before you decide to try out some of these platforms, you should be 100% confident that you have become a victim of click fraud. Otherwise, it might be a waste of money. The benefit of click fraud prevention software is that you will notice improvements in a relatively short amount of time.

These platforms monitor your ads and then use algorithms to determine which clicks are a source of fraudulent activities. 

5. Track your advertising campaigns 

Analytics are going to be your best friend in every advertising venture that you embark on. Google provides features of Campaign Performance and Account Performance to help you monitor your ads and see how many clicks are categorized as invalid. 

By monitoring your advertising campaigns, you will be able to understand whether your campaigns are successful. But on top of this, these monitoring tools will give you insight and help you understand whether your efforts against click fraud are paying off. 

The importance of protecting your business from click fraud 

Pay-per-click ads are an effective way of getting to a broader audience. Although it can lead to increased spending on advertisement, it can also help you improve your sales. Many businesses are scared of the dangers of click fraud, thus avoiding such ways of reaching out to people.

Businesses shouldn’t be afraid of click fraud, as there are many ways of preventing it. By protecting your business from click fraud, you will most likely save money by avoiding fake clicks, and you will have a higher likelihood of reaching out to real people.

Whether you decided to utilize some form of click fraud prevention software or started to exclude your ads from specific regions, your efforts will minimize the chances of wasted ad budget.

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