What is Click Fraud and How To Stop Fraudulent Illegal Clicks

Clickfraud is the act of artificially inflating the number of clicks on online advertisements through deceptive or automated means. This fraudulent practice is typically carried out by individuals or organizations looking to increase their own ad revenue or harm competitors by driving up advertising costs.

Click fraud can take various forms, including hiring low-cost workers to repeatedly click on ads, using automated scripts to generate fake clicks, or even utilizing bot networks to simulate legitimate website visitors.

Not only does clickfraud waste advertisers’ budgets and distort performance metrics, but it also compromises the integrity of digital marketing campaigns as a whole.

To combat this issue, advertisers often implement sophisticated tracking technologies and work closely with platforms to detect and prevent fraudulent activities in real-time.

Click fraud is when a person or a bot pretends to be a legitimate visitor on a webpage and clicks on an ad, a button, or some other type of hyperlink. The goal of click fraud is to trick a platform or service into thinking real users are interacting with a webpage, ad, or app.

Click fraud usually occurs on a large scale – each link is clicked many times, not just once, and usually multiple links are targeted. To automate this process, click fraudsters often use bots that “click” over and over. Bots comprise roughly 50% of all Internet traffic.* As much as 20% of websites that serve ads are visited exclusively by fraudulent click bots.**

Click fraud can have a variety of motivations. Most often, especially with ad fraud, the fraudsters are after financial gain. Sometimes, companies use click fraud to hurt their competitors’ ad budgets by targeting their PPC (or “pay per click”) ads with fraudulent clicks.

Click fraud could have ideological motivations as well – artificial likes or upvotes to a post to make certain sentiments seem more popular than they really are, for instance. Cyber criminals can also use click fraud to make a malicious webpage show up higher in search rankings so that it appears legitimate.

One example of click fraud is ad fraud: when a website operator drives fraudulent clicks on PPC display ads on their own website. Click fraud perpetrators can set up webpages that display PPC ads, and then use click bots to “click” on those ads. With each click, the ad network has to pay the website operator (the scammer). The more fraudulent clicks there are, the more the ad network has to pay the website if the fraud goes undetected.

Ad fraud can also be a financial attack on the company paying for the ads. In such a scenario, scammers target PPC ads on a web property they don’t own. The scammer isn’t looking to make money from the clicks, but the targeted company has to pay the ad network for each click, costing them money.

Another use case for click fraud is when someone tries to game search engine rankings by artificially boosting the click through rate.

“Click through rate” refers to how many users out of all the total visitors to a page click on a certain link. Click through rate is a ranking factor that search engines like Google take into account, although it’s not known how much of a factor it is.

Click fraud can wreak havoc with website analytics. If bots are interacting with a web property, then their activities are included in the data. As a result, the people running the website can’t measure the actual effectiveness of a display ad or judge the real behavior of legitimate users.

This is a problem for companies that want to measure how well their content is engaging an audience, or that want accurate information about traffic and user behavior on their site.

A strategy for managing bot activity is extremely important for any website, application, or API available over the Internet. Without the ability to mitigate malicious bot traffic like click fraud, bots can negatively impact customer experiences a

The goal of click fraud in this scenario is to increase the click through rate of a webpage, thereby increasing the search engine ranking and causing more real users to visit the page.

Click fraud costs ad networks billions – advertisers were estimated to lose $19 billion due to fraud in 2018 alone. If scammers are in possession of a botnet or have hijacked IP addresses, they can carry out click fraud on a large scale: in a long-term scam that was discovered in late 2018, a single criminal organization earned over $29 million via ad fraud.

Similarly, the companies running the PPC ad campaigns can also find themselves paying for fraudulent clicks coming from bots. One source reported that in 2016, marketers lost $7.2 billion to ad fraud.

How to Combat and Stop Click Fraud To Secure Your Marketing Costs

One effective way to combat click fraud is through the implementation of advanced analytics and monitoring systems. By actively tracking and analyzing website traffic patterns, businesses can identify unusual spikes in clicks or patterns that indicate fraudulent activity.

Additionally, setting up strict filtering mechanisms can help differentiate between legitimate and suspicious clicks, ensuring that only genuine traffic is counted towards advertising metrics.

Moreover, partnering with reputable ad networks and publishers who have stringent anti-fraud measures in place can significantly reduce the risk of click fraud.

Regularly auditing campaign performance and conducting thorough investigations into any suspicious activity can also help detect potential instances of click fraud early on and take proactive measures to prevent further occurrences.

Overall, a combination of sophisticated technology, industry best practices, and vigilant monitoring can effectively mitigate the risks associated with click fraud in digital advertising campaigns.