Is it the thought you might be impacted by click fraud?
Click fraud is real. Statistics show digital ad fraud cost marketersclose to $8 billion in 2016 and is expected to almost double that number by 2021. That’s a lot of money to lose just to fraudulent behavior within the industry.
That’s a very good reason to have click fraud as a fear.
But it shouldn’t hold you back from utilizing one of the best ways to share your business with potential customers.
To understand click fraud a little better, let’s first define it. According to Google, click fraud – Google calls it “invalid links” – is an illegitimate activity such as an unintentional click or a click resulting in malicious software. A good example would be when a manual click is made and intended to increase advertising costs or to increase profits for website owners hosting the ads.
Google knows this is happening and takes every step possible to reduce the impact. It provides manual reviews. It creates and adjusts automated filters. It has a team of scientists and engineers who are consistently researching better ways to solve this problem.
Sometimes the best way to fight it is to understand it a little better. A little knowledge can help you move past it, prevent it, and still be able to use Google Ads in an efficient way.
A manual click made specifically to increase your advertising costs
This is what most people think of when they think click fraud. They imagine an angry competitor sitting in an office clicking on their ads again and again, trying to increase advertising costs enough to put them out of business.
If you’re competing for the same keywords, it can be a cutthroat business. Whatever keywords you’re bidding on, chances are you aren’t the only one. You can tell that by how much you’re paying.
Some industries are far more susceptible to high amounts of traffic. Industries where quick answers – think emergency plumbing needs – are ripe for opportunity. Industries that are highly competitive, such as insurance or mortgages, also top the list for potential fraud.
A manual click made by a website owner to increase profits
When companies create Google Ads, they can appear in Google rankings. They can also appear across the internet on different websites. These website owners receive a portion of the click rate every time an ad is clicked on. So of course, website owner that hosts these ads want to boost up traffic and do everything they can to get those viewers to click.
Which leads to another type of click fraud.
Although this violates Google’s policy, it happens.
When Google discovers it, the partnership is revoked, and the connections are taken down. But for you, a businessperson trying to get new customers, it’s another way you might be spending money with zero chance of gaining results.
Automated resources using click fraud for big gains
Where there is a manual process, there’s almost always a way to automate it. And when it comes to click fraud techniques, hackers have found ways to create automated programs that push the envelope of click fraud for profit and gain.
Google works diligently to stay ahead of these hacking methods. They use both automated filters and manual reviews to catch everything they can.
They’ve also partnered with TAG– Trustworthy Accountability Group – to increase transparency in business relationships and transactions within the digital industry.
This is an ever-growing, ever-changing problem, especially as we move further into the mobile world. While click fraud might have taken a little more work on the part of the clicker when a mouse is in hand, with thumbs and a small handheld device, the engagement rules have changed.
If you start tracking your clicks when advertising on Google(and you should), you might notice clicks that appear to be fraudulent, yet Google considers them to be legitimate practices.
Your Competition will click on an ad to do research. It’s the nature of the game. Every business owner wants to see what their competition is, and will occasionally Google their keywords to find out who their competitors are. You can’t stop this. The difference is they click once for research. They don’t make a habit of clicking multiple times a day.
You might even notice multiple clicks from the same IP address. This is also a common practice because of how the internet works. Your marketing is often concentrated in certain demographics, which might target people all using the same ISP. They might give the same IP address to a large number of users, giving the appearance of multiple clicks.
People also click an ad multiple times as they are doing their research and make a decision. They click. They read. They back out and click again. This can go on for hours – days – as a viewer builds confidence and finalizes their purchases.
If you do suspect click fraud …
The first step is having an excellent tracking system in place. If you don’t know what’s happening, you can’t protect yourself from being at the receiving end of click fraud behavior.
Next, refine your keywords and ads to ensure you are only targeting the right demographics. Conversion statistics is the best way to determine if your ads are working.
You should also have Google Analytics set up to monitor all behavior. This can help drive your campaigns and make decisions about future advertising.
And when you do have evidence of fraudulent behavior, contact Google.
You can do this all on your own. Of course, as digital marketing experts, we can offer you a full service plan that will ensure you get the most from your Google advertising dollars. We’re happy to talk with you further about all of your digital marketing needs.