Fraud is everywhere these days, especially in this digital age. It’s a never-ending challenge for marketers who are trying to leverage their digital efforts. It’s important to note that advertisers who run Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns – whether they’re $100 campaigns or $100,000 campaigns – are subject to ad fraud. This black hat deal can have catastrophic effects on a company’s marketing budget, return on ad spend (ROAS), and overall campaign data.
Unfortunately, there are many different channels where ad fraud can surface. Still not quite sure what it is or what to be on the lookout for? Here, we’ll talk about what ad fraud is, what types of ad fraud exist, and how you can spot ad fraud so you’re equipped to handle future challenges.
How Does Ad Fraud Occur?
Ad fraud is often performed by competitors or fraudulent publishers who utilize automated bot traffic that repeatedly clicks on ads. When this happens, your money is spent because “people” are clicking on your advertisements – and the ultimate spend can be quite costly. The process involves the falsification of the number of times an ad is clicked on or displayed. If you’re a victim of ad fraud, you might think your revenue will increase because you’re getting so many views, but in reality, you’re just getting clicks that are costing you cash.
Types of Ad Fraud
Ad fraud doesn’t come in a singular format. There are, unfortunately, a lot of ways fraudsters can get to you. The following are a few of the most common:
- Geomasking. Geomasking is a technique used by ad fraudsters that hide the location of the clicks they generate. Often, ad spend for PPC campaigns is location-dependent, meaning some campaigns may be more valuable than others, depending on the location the advertisements are being sent to and from. People of this work have been known to spoof IP addresses to trick marketers into thinking clicks are more valuable than they really are. This hiding pattern also makes it hard to analyze the situations fraudsters are using to blow up your company’s PPC efforts.
- Click spamming. Fraudsters are known for performing spamming that eats up PPC budgets by inundating ads with fraudulent clicks. This often occurs when fraudsters carry out clicks for legitimate users who haven’t actually clicked on anything. This process occurs when users open mobile webpages or apps where fraudsters are already in operation. From there, the bad guys can send clicks to invisible ads that are running behind the scenes, making fake clicks, or sending clicks from a user’s device to a random vendor ultimately receiving a payment for those ad clicks.
- Bad bots. Bots are good when they’re on your side. They help you gain traffic to your website and boost your overall rankings. However, you need to be on high alert for bad bots, which can mimic real human workflows across web applications and appear like real human users.
- Click farms. Click farms are typically based in countries with little regulation on ad fraud (such as India and China). Because of this, it can be tough to prevent the impact of click farms.
How Can You Spot Ad Fraud?
We can’t stress this enough – you need to stay on top of your analytics. Your data will show you which domains and apps your advertisements are being spread around to. If your ads are only concentrated around a few sites, particularly if they seem egregious or fraudulent then chances are, they are.
Here are a few other things to be on the lookout for:
- High bounce rates and low average session durations. A huge uptick in bounce rates or significant decreases in average session duration could mean bad bots or click farms have attacked your campaign.
- A massive spike in page views. It’s not common to see sudden, dramatic increases in PPC campaigns, so if you’re seeing a huge boost in page views or other impressive stats, you should look into the possibility of ad fraud.
- Increased page load times. If you’ve had malware, bad bots, or other fraudulent software interfere with your campaign, they might be hijacking your page load times.
Work With a Reputable Agency
Zero Gravity Marketing is here to help you make the most of your PPC campaigns while identifying any potential ad fraud. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of this crime, reach out to our team today. The sooner you catch the problem, the sooner you can find a solution!