Whether it’s referred to as click fraud, ad fraud, or PPC fraud, the crime itself costs advertisers tens of billions of dollars every year. People who know how click fraud works also know how serious the problem is. But they are in the minority. Most people have no clue.
If you own or manage a company that utilizes PPC advertising, you need to be aware of click fraud and how it could be harming your business. Click fraud depletes advertising budgets while enriching those who perpetrate it. It is serious business and something that shouldn’t be ignored.
To illustrate just how bad it is, below are four click fraud examples furnished by the makers of Fraud Blocker, a software package that helps advertisers identify and prevent click fraud.
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The first of our four click fraud examples involves a fraudulent publishing platform purposely set up for no other reason than ripping off advertisers. The platform owner represents himself as a legitimate publisher capable of generating very good returns. Instead, he steals from clients by committing click fraud.
He might do it by utilizing click bots programmed to do nothing but click ads all day. He might set up a click farm or employ pixel stuffing and ad stacking techniques. No matter the technique, his only goal is to run up an advertiser’s bill by maximizing clicks.
Fraudsters can be very creative with their click fraud strategies. This is easily seen in our second example, which involves a fraudster creating a platform that incentivizes legitimate visitors to click ads they would otherwise not even look at. Here’s how it works:
Imagine you have a gamer looking to download the latest add-ons for his favorite game. He finds a site he thinks will work. But in order to gain access to the add-ons, he first has to watch an ad. He has no intention of buying whatever is advertised in the spot, nor does he intend to visit the advertiser’s website. He just wants access to the add-ons.
The third click fraud example involves a fraudster setting up what is known as an ad redirection attack. Ad redirection involves creating a second ad nearly identical to the original ad, then placing it on a separate site. When a visitor clicks that ad, the ad redirects his browser to the duplicate ad and then back to the original page. In essence, the perpetrator manages to get two clicks for one.
Meanwhile, visitors are none the wiser. All they see are two identical ads that look completely organic. In addition, the redirection occurs so quickly that a typical internet user is likely to assume it’s just a glitch.
Unfortunately, the last of our click fraud examples is pretty easy to pull off but hard to detect. It involves companies that seek to drive up their competitors’ advertising costs by finding their ads and routinely clicking on them. As the thinking goes, depleting a competitor’s advertising budget without generating sales in return reduces that company’s ability to sell.
Fraud Blocker’s developers say that people who commit click fraud are becoming more sophisticated every year. Just like hackers, they have every incentive to find new and better ways to commit their crimes. In an industry that nets them tens of billions of dollars annually, there is always more room for more.
If you are a PPC advertiser, beware. Click fraud is a serious problem that could cost you plenty.
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