The Most Common Types of Click Fraud: Part One

Most online advertisers aren’t aware their campaigns are under constant assault. Statistics show that as many as 1/3 of your clicks could be invalid. But who is behind all of these fake and nefarious clicks? There are many types of invalid clicking which occur, but the most common types can be broken down into a few main categories: Competitor-driven click fraud, Friendly-fire, and bot attacks. Today, we will focus specifically on the first category.

Type One: Competitors Clicking Your Ads

This is by far the most well known (although not necessarily the most common) type of assault on your campaigns. And so it comes as no surprise that the vast majority of our clients are specifically interested in stopping what they perceive as an attack by a competing business on their ads.

Every business has a key rival. And when your online ad bill suddenly soars, you might immediately imagine your main business rival sitting at computer terminal mercilessly reloading Google again and again, draining your daily budget. You see red. You think of ways to retaliate. And then you look for ways to stop it (Hint, hint: PPCSecure).

The biggest issue is just how easy and risk-free click fraud remains in 2018. If someone stole $100 from your business’ cash register, you’d call the police and they’d go to jail. But what if someone clicked your ads causing $100 in fees to accrue to your AdWords account? Same amount of damage, but the perpetrator faces almost no consequences. Not to mention how convenient it is. In the first example, they’d need elaborate planning for the robbery and getaway, they’d have to visit your place of business, and then hope they don’t get caught. But in the second example, little-to-no planning is required, they can do it from the convenience of their couch or office chair, and who is going to stop them?

But the other question we often get asked is WHY? Why would a competitor even bother to click your ads constantly? The answer is two-fold. First, every dollar that gets drained from your marketing budget is one less dollar of profit for you. Second, they are hoping to cause your ads to stop showing. If you ads are online 24/7, but most of your customers search between 8am and 4pm, all your competitor needs to do is click your ads enough prior to 8am that your budget it exhausted and your ads do not show for the rest of the day.

So, what can be done about all of this? Here are some free and easy strategies you can use right now:

1. We recommend that you strictly geo-target your ads to only the exact areas you serve.
2. Show ads more evenly throughout the day as opposed to serving them up as quickly as possible (this is an AdWords setting).
3. You should strictly limit the hours your ads are shown.
4. Use click fraud software such as PPCSecure to monitor your ads and automatically block bad IPs.