Click Fraud: The Problem and Potential Protection

All digital advertisers have likely faced the problem of click fraud. If you, like so many other advertisers, are not addressing click fraud, you have some work to do. Here we look at how click fraud works and what you can do to protect against it.

How Click Fraud Works

There are always people willing to eliminate their competitors in digital advertising. Sellers of goods and services may try to remove or corrupt click count and impressions for the ads of similar products in order to make their offering more visible online. These hackers simply click on the ads of their competitors, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to show their products to their target audience due to limited budget.

This can be done manually, but more often hackers use special software solutions, or bots, for click fraud. These bots replace genuine human engagement so companies appear to get a lot of ad clicks or impressions, but in reality not many humans saw or clicked their ad.

According to the article published by Adometry in 2013, it turns out, that the click fraud level amounted to $6 billion that year, which was 15% of the world market of contextual advertising in 2013.

Here we can see the level of click fraud across the globe, in 2013.

click fraud mapLooking at 2014, click fraud was estimated to cost marketers $11.6 billion, worldwide.

According to the research data shared by Incapsula, at the end of 2013, bots amounted to 61.5% of all internet traffic – with the majority considered “good bots” as seen below:

click fraud bot traffic

Click Fraud Protection

By the end of 2014 these numbers have considerably increased.

Of course, it is possible to protect against click fraud. Nowadays there are many software solutions offering click fraud protection, including Adometry and ClickForensics, but most of these solutions are best suited for large companies with big budgets and customized filter settings.

For smaller businesses, another solution is, which can be set up within advertising networks like AdWords to block fraudulent IPs and sites from seeing your ads.

There will always be click fraud and bots in any ad network, but one of the best things to do, with fraud protection or not, is to make changes to improve traffic quality at a campaign level. Avoid countries with high click fraud rates (as seen in the map above), target higher value sites, monitor any invalid clicks in AdWords and set bids at a reasonable rate. It seems intuitive, but the more diligent you are and the more time you give to fraud protection the richer and more valuable your ad traffic will be.

Jillian Zacchia

Jillian Zacchia

Jill is a professional writer, editor and social media procrastinator. With a degree in Literature and Communications from McGill, she started her journalism career writing about lifestyle and entertainment for teen magazines, and after dabbling with wedding and travel writing she began the transition towards content creation for start ups, marketing and tech companies.

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