Digital marketers have long been aware of the possibility of click and ad fraud, but are often ignorant of the facts. With questions about PPC fraud growing louder, marketers are wondering exactly how much click fraud is affecting their PPC budget.
Pay per click advertising is of course the most important way to increase traffic for your online business and generate sales. And with exactly $ 140 billion businesses spending in 2020, how much of that is being pulled by fraudsters?
The answer out loud Fraud prevention company ClickCeaseis an average of 14%. Data from their own analysis shows that clicks on Google Ads text and display ads, YouTube ads, and Bing Ads contain between 11% and 60% of invalid traffic.
But why this broad percentage range? And why does click fraud even occur?
Who Clicks on Your PPC Ads?
Fake clicks on paid links come from a number of sources including business competitors, brand haters and organized click scammers who run botnets and fraudulent inventory.
It actually depends on your industry and the targeted keywords. Case studies and data have shown that competitive local industries such as waste management, locksmithing and professional services have particularly high levels of competitive click fraud.
That is, inter-business competitors clicking on each other’s ads to deplete their daily ad budget and remove them from the SERPs.
Companies with high quality keywords, e.g. However, in areas such as law, finance and casinos, and gambling, you will find that a large proportion of the clicks on their ads are due to organized ad fraud.
Zach Shipman, Senior Business Consultant at ClickCease, said, “The level of fraud in some industries can be alarming. In fact, we found that our software identified around 60% of all clicks on ads for locksmiths and photographers as fraudulent.
“We even had a garbage disposal company in Australia run our own test of our software and found that a local rival was generating huge amounts of false clicks on its ads.
“And when you consider that the keyword bid for this industry is around AU $ 50, it’s incredible how much some companies are losing to fraud.”
However, it’s not just local companies trying to beat their competitors.
The click fraud industry
Clicking paid links for profit is a growing industry. There’s a whole world of paid to click websitesB. NeoBux, Swagbucks and Scarlet Clicks, which pay users to view ads and click on paid links.
For some, this is an easy and enticing way to make good money, especially in lower-income countries around the world.
These sites even boomed during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, with new signups and payouts hitting record highs.
However, the seedy world of ad fraud is also seeing record profits as botnets and fraudulent campaigns are regularly exposed.
In 2020 aloneWe’ve seen headlines around the Hydra botnet, the 404 bot, and Tekya / Hook, all of which are responsible for scamming advertisers for millions of dollars.
A report from fraud prevention firm Cheq and the University of Baltimore found that click fraud was involved cost advertisers $ 35 billion in 2020, which was above their original estimate of $ 24 billion.
What Can Be Done To Combat PPC Fraud?
Click fraud is a problem known to major ad platforms like Google. In fact, Google has its own fraud removal department and has issued statements stating that they prevent the greatest fraud.
However, the statistics of many anti-fraud services tell a different story. The growth in the click fraud prevention industry also shows that this is an issue that is nowhere near under control by the majors.
Invalid traffic, as it is called by the ad platforms, has been a problem since the birth of programmatic advertising.
However, given the continued growth of botnets for ad fraud and the headlines about lost money from click fraud, it seems like it is up to independent click fraud prevention firms to take the ball.
ClickCease’s Zach says, “During the 2020 lockdown, marketers seem to be realizing that something has to do with the traffic on their ads. During the first worldwide closures in April and May 2020, fraudulent traffic even increased by 21%.
“It seems marketers have noticed this spike in fraudulent traffic as we’ve seen an increase in signups during that time too.”
Managing PPC ads is time consuming and requires regular analysis. When looking for signs of fraud in your programmatic ads, look out for heavy traffic, high bounce rates, and tell-tale signs of low conversions associated with spikes in traffic.
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