Home Tech Why Every PPC Advertiser Should Be Using Click Fraud Software

Why Every PPC Advertiser Should Be Using Click Fraud Software

by Kim Marks

PPC advertising has taken a big reputational hit in recent years. The primary culprit here is PPC ad fraud. Ad fraud is estimated to cost online advertisers tens of billions of dollars annually. But it doesn’t have to. Enter click fraud software with built-in invalid traffic filtering capabilities. Every PPC advertiser should be using it.

There are several incredibly good click fraud prevention packages and those certainly do a better job of filtering invalid traffic than the big three tech companies: Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

The main problem with relying on big tech to filter out invalid traffic is the inherent conflict of interest. They want to protect their advertisers in order to keep ad revenue coming in. At the same time, every click a PPC ad gets – whether it is legitimate or not – also generates revenue.

Bot Traffic All Across the Web

Source: interceptd.com

PPC ad fraud is probably easier to perpetrate than it should be, thanks to automated web traffic. Automated traffic is generated by software bots, both good and bad. How much traffic do they generate? From 2014 through 2021, it was just about half.

That means half the clicks on any particular website aren’t generated by human beings. They come from bots. You have good bots, like Google’s crawlers, along with the bad bots operated by PPC ad fraud perpetrators. Unfortunately, the data suggests that there are more bad bots than good.

For the purposes of perpetrating PPC ad fraud, scammers create their own click bots and distribute them across the web through a variety of means. A good scammer can hijack thousands of computers and have them all running bots simultaneously. It has been said that click bot activity is the easiest and most effective way to run a PPC ad fraud scam.

Ad Revenue but No Sales

So what’s the problem with all the fake click bot traffic? It generates ad revenue but no sales. And unfortunately, there is plenty of incentive for running this type of scam thanks to the way PPC advertising is designed. In the PPC world, clicks equal money.

The PPC model is built on two fundamental principles:

  1. Paying for Clicks – PPC’s name says it all in terms of how advertisers are billed. They pay a set fee every time their ads are clicked. If the price is $0.50 per click, 1,000 clicks will generate a $500 bill.
  2. Keyword Bids – The price advertisers pay per click depends on the bids they place for specific keywords. The most lucrative keywords command higher bids.

Combine these two things and there is plenty of incentive to run a PPC ad fraud scam. You just set yourself up as a publisher, sign on to be part of a publishing network utilized by the big three tech companies, and then put together some software bots to do your dirty work.

Filtering Out Invalid Traffic

Source: cpomagazine.com

To be fair, the big three tech companies do run filters designed to identify and keep out invalid traffic. What is invalid traffic? It is fake traffic that isn’t coming from genuine human beings conducting legitimate online activity. Filter out invalid traffic and you minimize ad fraud losses.

It has been said by numerous experts, including Neil Patel, that big tech’s filters are not as robust as those utilized by third-party ad fraud prevention software designers. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft apparently are much more liberal with their filters than third-party competitors.

Again, there is the conflict of interest issue. But there is also something else to consider: Google, Facebook, and Microsoft do not want to be too aggressive with their filters because they don’t want to block good bots just trying to go about their business.

The fact is that filtering invalid traffic is complicated. It is still the key to detecting and stopping ad fraud, but doing it is not as easy as setting up a few parameters once and then forgetting about them. Monitoring and filtering invalid traffic is a constantly evolving enterprise.

What Ad Prevention Software Does

Source: mydlp.com

FraudBlocker says that a good ad fraud protection package monitors multiple channels to identify and block invalid traffic. Software is designed to examine IP addresses, timestamps, fingerprint markers, click frequency, and more. All the data it collects is analyzed and compared for the purposes of identifying behavior that doesn’t appear to be human.

Some software packages simply detect invalid traffic and leave it to human security experts to deal with. Other packages quarantine questionable traffic while still others block it entirely. The thing is that scammers continue to adjust their strategies to get around software upgrades.

A common practice among scammers is to use VPNs to mask their activity. They constantly cycle through different IP addresses, through their VPNs, so that software does not identify too many clicks coming from a single address. It is an effective strategy, which is why software developers design their packages to look at more than just IP addresses.

Combine Software with Human Experts

Source: inspirage.com

If filtering invalid traffic is the best way to prevent PPC ad fraud, and it is, it is accomplished most effectively by combining both fraud prevention software and human experts who know what they are looking at.

Software handles tasks that can be automated. It can obviously crunch data a lot faster than human beings. But ultimately, human experts need to make the final decisions. They need to be able to spot anomalies that software doesn’t pick up on.

Granted, it is a lot of work for advertisers who handle their PPC campaigns in-house. Advertisers who choose to outsource PPC to a digital marketing agency have every right to expect the agency to fight ad fraud. But it may be necessary to hire an outside expert to complement deployed software.

PPC ad fraud is a very real problem. It is a problem that is tough to fight without the right tools and resources. For this reason alone, every PPC advertiser should be utilizing ad fraud prevention software – at minimum.