Contextual advertising click fraud

Contextual advertising click fraud Contextual advertising

PPC click-throughs is a phenomenon that comes as an unpleasant surprise to anyone who competes honestly in the market and pays for ads in Google Ads. By the forces of unscrupulous participants, up to half of your advertising budget can fly into the pipe.

Those who believe that all means are good in war do it on their own or pay bots to do all the dirty work. Instead of improving their product and coming up with interesting promotions, it is easier for some competitors to find a “black” click-through service. There are not so many such requests, but they do exist.

What is click-through advertising?

The very concept of “Click fraud”, which translates as “clicking”, means repeated clicks on the links indicated in contextual advertising, with the sole purpose of wasting the advertiser’s funds allocated for the promotion of a product.

Information! Clicking can occur both manually and automatically. The first low-efficiency method does not cause significant harm to the advertiser. But the second, when a clicker bot comes into play, can cause significant harm.

The principle of operation of such bots is to imitate the behavior of “live” users. With the help of special software, a short visit to the required web resource is emulated. As a result, significant amounts may be debited from the advertiser’s account, which are spent uselessly for him, because such clicks on ads cannot be called targeted.

Who usually engages in click fraud?

Ad budget clicks

Those who engage in click fraud in contextual advertising usually fall into one of four groups:

  1. Competitors. Most advertisers set a limit on how much they are willing to spend on contextual ads per day. The goal of unscrupulous competitors is to use special software to click this advertising budget as soon as possible in order to reduce competition in the search results and thereby increase the likelihood of attracting a buyer to their organization’s website;
  2. Website owners who make money from advertising. Through the Display Network, Google image ads are displayed on the web resources of its members. Owners of such resources can earn up to half of the cost per click paid by the advertiser. To increase earnings from advertising, site owners can follow links in ads on their own or using special software;
  3. Professional clickers. Most often, teenagers work in the positions of such low-paid employees. They click the budget of advertisers, receiving rewards from their competitors-customers;
  4. Users having fun clicking. For this group of people who do not receive any benefit from their actions, click-through advertising is purely entertainment.

Why is budget click-through in contextual advertising dangerous?

  • Direct loss of advertising investments. The most significant impact of click-through budgets in contextual advertising is a measurable increase in average order value. For some advertisers, the loss of advertising funds is so significant that they are forced to look for a replacement for this channel of attracting traffic to the site. This causes the second problem;
  • Business slowdown. In some areas of activity, it is simply impossible to refuse contextual ads. This, for example, applies to urgent opening of locks, calling a tow truck or a lawyer. A site located in the first place of issuance is very likely to collect almost all orders in these areas of business. Other areas are also sensitive to a decrease in traffic from Google contextual advertising, which always affects sales;
  • Distortion of statistical data. The task of calculating the actual cost of a lead, the source of which was contextual advertising, becomes unsolvable when clicked. Business owners are having trouble assessing its profitability. That is why, when promoting a product in Google Ads, it is necessary to take care of effective protection against click fraud.

How to detect click-through advertising budget?

An organization whose ads are targeted by click attacks can lose hundreds of dollars a day. But timely detection of a threat and its elimination can save the company from dire consequences.

Signs of a problem:

  1. Noticeable spike in attendance. In analytical reports, strange click-through rates are observed: an increased number of clicks from visitors who almost immediately left the resource without taking any action (purchasing a product, sending an online application, adding a product to the cart, etc.). Such inefficient traffic is usually found on pages with high-frequency search phrases;
  2. Numerous visits from the same address. Such a symptom often indicates that the click is performed unprofessionally. But it is also worth paying attention to. This is primarily a signal that someone who does not know click fraud methods is trying to spend your advertising budget. How to deal with such laymen will be discussed in the article below.
  3. High bounce rates. The concept of “opt-out” in Internet marketing refers to the quick completion of a user’s visit to a site. Such visitors enter and, without having studied the information posted on the page, immediately leave. If the analytical system captures a high bounce rate, then you should think about whether this is a click;
  4. Missing session cookie information. The Cookie mechanism allows using a piece of program code to mark the device used by the user visiting the site. Initially, the ability to put such a mark is activated in all web browsers. Intentionally changing this setting is extremely rare. Therefore, if among the visitors of your resource there are many who do not register Cookies, then with a high degree of confidence we can talk about fraudulent actions aimed at clicking on the advertising budget.

How does Google Ads fight click fraud?

Google Ads Click Fraud Protection

Before moving on to the question of how to deal with Google Ads click-throughs on your own, you should dwell on the click fraud detection system developed by Google. The company’s own center analyzes the quality of traffic and provides assistance in refunding funds to those customers who have suffered from unscrupulous actions of competitors and other scammers.

The service captures and analyzes all clicks for all ads, both in the Display Network and in search. If the user’s actions correspond to fraudulent ones, the system automatically credits the advertiser’s account with the funds spent as a result of these actions.

Information! This feature of Google is simply invaluable for an advertiser – not only is a constant analysis of user behavior for click fraud, but also the automatic restoration of the advertising budget spent on it.

The following actions are considered untrustworthy in the AdWords system:

  • Clicks that have no practical value for the advertiser (for example, double clicks);
  • Manual clicks that are intended to increase the spend of an advertiser’s budget;
  • Manual clicks that aim to increase the revenue of the ad owner;
  • Clicks made by bots in automated mode;
  • Actions designed to artificially lower the CTR of an ad campaign or ad.

Detection and filtering of click fraud is carried out at the stage preceding the generation of analytical reports. During the analysis, the system processes several data arrays – duplication of clicks, IP address, duration of execution, etc.

How else can you protect yourself from click-through ads?

To protect against click-throughs of contextual advertising, there are additional ways to minimize the damage from fraudulent actions:

  • The use of low-frequency key phrases. Highly specialized language is usually used only by targeted visitors, they are rarely seen among an uninvolved audience;
  • Well-formed declarations. Call-to-action ads always perform better than non-optimized ads on the top lines of SERPs. Real customers will pay attention to well-written informative advertising text, and unscrupulous users usually target TOP ads;
  • Geotargeting. Use this tool to show ads only in the regions where you actually work. To increase the display area is not only pointless, but also harmful. This allows fraudsters to click the budget from proxy servers located in other cities. For geotargeting in Google, you can use the function of blocking the display of ads on devices whose addresses do not belong to the specified range;
  • Control advertising costs. By setting a daily spending limit, you can estimate how quickly the money runs out. Once the limit is reached, the ad will stop running. And if this happens earlier than usual, then it is worth analyzing for clicks;
  • Flexible display schedule. Unpredictable ad campaign stops can confuse scammers;
  • Compiling a list of trusted sites. Pay attention to the reputation of the resources you use as advertising platforms. The unscrupulous owners of some of them may pursue the goal of generating income at any cost. Work only with trusted sources. So the probability of click fraud will be minimal.

Why shouldn’t you try to click on a competitor’s ad campaign?

Clicking on a competitor’s contextual advertising is a kind of crime in a virtual environment.

Such a radical and impure tool of competition as click-through is completely unjustified – the highly effective protection systems of most contextual advertising services cope well with the problem of click fraud.

If you still plan to try this method of competition, remember:

  • It is quite possible to merge a competitor’s advertising funds if you provide such clicks on ads that will be identified by the system not as bots, but as “live” users. But keep in mind that the click-through rate of an attacked ad may increase due to an increase in the total number of clicks to the site;
  • Increasing your CTR will reduce the cost of subsequent clicks. By paying for a click attack on a competitor, you will not be able to achieve a long-term effect. In the process of reducing the cost per click, you will need more and more clicks, and, consequently, funds to pay for bots. As a result, both time and money will be wasted;
  • A smarter alternative to clicking competitors while reducing their promotion costs is to create your own advertising campaign to help attract buyers of your product.
Important! To protect against the actions of unscrupulous competitors, you should always pay attention to any non-standard situations and scrupulously analyze your own analytical reports, and contact support at the first suspicion.
Сергей Шевченко
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