Click fraud is an internet crime in that occurs in Pay-per-Click online advertising. Pay per click fraud occurs when a person (possibly competitors), automated script or computer programs, clicks on your PPC ad over and over again, with no interest in your products and services. This is done with the sole objective of exhausting your advertising budget. Ads which come under most popular keyword listing fall prey to pay per click fraud. With no product sales, you may need to pay to your publisher (mostly search engines). This is a serious matter of concern for both reputed search engines and advertisers. Although this type of fraud is easy to catch, but now-a-days most of the pay per click fraud is done in a sophisticated manner. It can take place in a number of ways- by humans, automated scripts, from masked or shared IP’s etc.
How to know whether you are being fraud?
It basically depends on the amount you spend on PPC advertising. The extent of click fraud is impossible to measure with any certainty. Most search engine analyzers believe that around 20% of all the traffic coming from pay per click ads is illegitimate. On your side, you can check out some of the patterns for click fraud detection. If no changes have been made to your ad, and you see a sudden increase in traffic from pay per click ads, it is quite possible that this may be because of pay per click fraud. Check your website traffic logs to find any kind of patterns. If you find that a lot of traffic is coming from a single IP address, then you should know that this because of click fraud.
So the next question that you may ask is “What should I do?” Do not panic after the detection of click fraud. Save a copy of your website traffic logs as a proof. Contact search engines and report about pay per click fraud. In most cases, PPC search engines refund the amount that you think was stolen, as long as you can prove it to them.
Fortunately most of the search engines have come to know about click fraud and they are taking some serious steps to avoid them. There are Anti-Click Fraud technology and investigative departments in many search engines to combat this disease. But on your part, you need to run some simple errands for pay per click fraud protection
i. Different bid prices for content-targeted sites:
Cut down your financial risks by limiting the amount you are ready to pay per click. Reduce your exposure to a group of “any websites” that contains content which relate your ads. Place your ads in only reliable websites which you believe will not do any harm to you.
ii. Look out for your competitors:
Monitor who is competing with you for your keywords as they could be potential fraudster. There are free online software tools which provide you free trading reports that give the details on the number of clicks on your ads from your competitors and other common origins of fraud.
iii. Tracking and monitoring:
Always track and monitor your advertising campaigns. Google has provided two tools for its advertisers: Campaign Performance and Account Performance. These tools allow you to see the number and percentage of clicks that have been categorized as invalid by Google.
iv. Advertise in specific countries:
There are many countries which have a low labor rate. Fraudsters employ these people in these countries with the sole purpose of fraud clicking on advertisements. Therefore do not run ads in those countries where you think your ad campaign can be sabotaged.
v. High value sites for your ads:
Low quality sites are the hometown for fraud clicking. Owners of these sites employ people or program just to increase PPC’s revenues. Google and Yahoo allow you to set up ad campaigns on the sites specified by you. Choose wisely to get a fair website for your ads.
vi. Purchase software programs:
If you have any doubts that you are being a victim of click fraud, then you can purchase software programs that can help you identify suspicious content targeted websites. These softwares can also prepare referral reports in case of any legal fight.
vii. Website traffic logs:
Always keep a track of your website traffic logs. Try and detect any kind of patterns that you might think of as a click fraud potential. Check the IP addresses, traffic number etc.
viii. Keep exclusion list:
Exclusion list is the list of people to whom you do not want to display your ads. These people are suspicious of committing click fraud. Protect your sites by regularly updating exclusion list. There are two types of exclusion list
- Domain exclusion list: These lists prevent your site from getting displayed in content network sites.
- IP Exclusion list: These lists prevent your site from getting displayed on particular IP addresses.
ix. Submit refund requests regularly:
If you think that you are being a victim of click fraud then report it immediately. Submit your refund requests regularly, at least once in a month only after you have collected all the evidence to support your report.
Pay per click fraud is an extremely serious offence. Be protected from it by following the above simple and lucid steps.
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