Click Fraud has been continuing to gain traction and the effect of this on ad budgets is a growing concern for digital advertisers. According to reports, click fraud activities have become one of the top concerns for marketers across the globe.
With that in mind we take a look at the best options available to you to stop click fraud from whiping out your advertising budget.
ClickCease is a click-fraud detection, prevention, and protection service software solution. Their anti-click-fraud service protects customers who use Google AdWords and Bing by using their industry-leading detection algorithms to block fraudulent IPs automatically. ClickCease is not affiliated with any search engine and is an independent provider.
Monthly Pricing Plans
- Suitable for: Small and Medium AdWords Account
- "The employees there are super helpful and check in from time to time to make sure everything is going well. I would highly recommend using ClickCease for all of your CPC accounts."
- "Beautiful and clean software that even has an optional dark mode. The automated Adwords claims are amazing and the ability to finely tune the blocking process and sensitivity is flawless."
- "ClickCease has been great. As a small business owner, our advertising dollars are carefully spent."
- "In a competitive market, sometimes your competition wants to sabotage your success for their own gain by clicking on your ads which eats up your ad spend. Clickcease nips this is the bud."
- "In fact, the service catches much more fraudulent activity than we uncovered manually. Overall, if you aren't using ClickCease on your accounts, then you are losing money every day."
- "At JustLegal Marketing, our team used to spend hours analyzing clicks, server logs, IP addresses, site visitor behavior, etc. to target potential click fraud on our accounts."
- "I really enjoy using ClickCease as a backup to Google's internal fraud protection. Google obviously wants to have a fraud free platform, but click fraud is far from their top priority."
- "I started using ClickCease after some unusual activity on my Brand campaigns. Since i use the tool it seems that click frauds are happening less and less with time."
ClickGUARD protects AdWords accounts from all types of unwanted ad clicks, allowing online advertisers to verify and control their paid traffic, protecting them from wasteful ad clicks. They provide the world’s most advanced intelligent click fraud prevention platform and service to businesses seeking to better understand and prevent losses to non-profitable resource-draining clicks.
They are a remote-first organisation with dedicated employees across the world, working with innovative tech and helping businesses and digital marketing professionals get the best results from their advertising campaigns.
Monthly Pricing Plans
- Suitable for: Enterprise business and Advertising agencies
- "A very important part of any business's success is ensuring that they do not just offer a product or service but that they are able to effectively support their customers."
- "This app has great features that make our company very competitive on the market. We get real protection here and I'm very comfortable with the progress we've made since installing Clickguard."
- "M going to be bold and say that in my opinion, Clickguard tops all the other software out there that try to do the same thing. I am so happy I decided to give this a try when I did."
- "I love how good my conversations are looking. I am confident that I'm getting real clicks and not clicks from these robot apps which means that my apps are also effective."
- "Anonymous clicks are such a pain because of the false data that they give and the fact that they were actually wasting our budget on essentially empty clicks."
- "Clickguard is what stands between our ads and great conversions and fraud click activities and it does a hell of a job."
- "There was a lot of guessing that I had to do, not to mention the money I was losing because I was paying for nongenuine clicks just the same."
- "Your budget really suffers when you run google ad campaigns without the right protection. You leave yourself open to click fraud threats that cause inaccurate click data that you still are paying for."
3. PPC Protect
PPC Protect’s award-winning automated software stops click fraud immediately and protects your future campaigns. Their solution is simple: they stop fraudsters from clicking your ads by using their unique proprietary algorithm that actively blocks suspicious clicks and known fraudsters.
By tracking the behaviour and frequency of clicks from individual users, they can quickly determine if a click is genuine or fraud. Combine this with their extensive database of known fraudsters and you can feel safe knowing your ads are fully protected from any malicious activity.
Monthly Pricing Plans
- Suitable for: Up to $2,500 Ad Spend
- Very useful and saves a lot of money time after time according to Google AdWords account holders.
- A fair bit of money can be saved for your clients you can also refund on fraudulent Google Ads spend.
- Provides you a great insight in to your paid search activity and all the money that you have been wasting so far.
- Excellent support and guidance and clients can see fantastic results from PPC Protect.
- Phenomenal return on the cost of the software and 100% recommended software.
- Keep receiving spam e-mails from PPC Protect. They keep reporting my reviews in attempt to hide the truth!
- PPC Protect does no greater work than Google filter’s invalid clicks.
- Rather than work they started asking for reviews in less than a month when no such results can be achieved in such a short time.
- Software needs to be improved more for better results.
Competitors, bots and click farms clicking on your ads, cause damage to your business by spending money on fraudulent activity. 1 out of every 4 clicks is defined as click fraud costing businesses around the world billions every year. Clixtell is a reliable and powerful automated click fraud protection solution, very user-friendly software that enables you to secure your Google Ads and Bing Ads budget by constantly preventing and immediately blocking click fraud activity.
Monthly Pricing Plans
- Suitable for: Small and Medium AdWords Account
- Helps to analyze the clicks and to understand the real flow of your website visitors, from the click to the sell, with recording.
- So many great features in one product. A real game-changer and the software is very easy to use.
- A powerful product, easy integration systems and support team is available whenever necessary.
- Great click fraud protection software and monitoring tool, actually the only solution that really save your budget.
- Takes too long to automatically block the IP's.
- Customer service is just as poor as Clickcease.
- Someone clicked my ad and triggered the block, and yet they were still able to click my ad another 8 times. Very poor service.
ADWARY offers complete transparency and comprehensive protection from click fraud in Google Ads. The specially developed methodology reliably detects invalid and fraudulent clicks on the basis of a variety of indicators, consistently preventing fraud attempts with clear evidence of activity.
ADWARY is the data protection compliant solution against click fraud which, thanks to a sophisticated methodology, even the most complex fraud patterns are detected in real-time. This enables an immediate reaction in case of need.
Monthly Pricing Plans
- Suitable for: Small and Medium AdWords Account
- A business insight stage for versatile applications.
- Valuable tracking information for your mobile app.
- AdWary provides great audience data with ad intelligence.
- It's a necessary evil if you need the attribution data.
- It is not very easy to implement and use and really expensive while you activate tracking of all of the ad channels you have used.
- It's difficult to learn and even the best and most experienced engineers set it up wrong.
- Lacks the ability to do web attribution, so the customer journey contacts you can see are only the mobile ones.
- Hard to set up initially. Very confusing.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is specifically a black-hat technique of false inflation in the number of clicks on a PPC ad. Google marks them as ‘invalid clicks’ that occur when a paid ad is clicked on repeatedly to drain all the budget from the advertisers.
Click frauds are driven by two primary reasons:
- Advertisers try to eliminate competitors by draining their ad budgets and driving up their cost per click (CPC) as well as end their budget capital earlier in the day.
- Ad publishers click on the ads displayed on their own websites for a greater amount of revenue generation for their site.
Types of Click Fraud:
There are three main types of click fraud that you need to be careful of:
1. Manual clicks to increase your ad budget
Manual clicks are usually done by competitors wanting to drain your ad budget and increase your ad costs. Suppose you are ranking higher than your competitors in search results. It is quite natural that they will not like to see this and so will click on your ads to drive up your costs, draining your ad budget. They can eventually drive up such higher costs that you are unable to afford further advertising for those keywords.
These manual clicks are basically performed by discontent business owners who aren’t performing as well as their competitors and therefore click on the competitors ads to reduce the competition. According to investigated reports way back in 2013, agencies were named ‘click farms’ and today the practice is commonplace for such ‘farms’ to be acting out full-time click fraud activities. These agencies have one aim of clicking on their clients’ competitor campaigns and draining advertising budgets to drive them out of the market competition.
2. Manual clicks by webmasters
When your PPC campaigns run on the GDN (Google Display Network), then you have chances of experiencing click frauds. Whenever you run an ad on your PPC campaign hosted by a third-party website and your ads are clicked, they earn a cut. Third-party websites hosting Google AdWords (now Google Ads) are part of the Google AdSense.
Even if none of your competitors are taking advantage of your PPC campaigns, chances are high that webmasters will be advantageous of your situation. Every webmaster is allowed to display Google ads on their site. They create AdSense account and then they can start to display ads instantly and any person clicking on the ads gets as much as 68% of the amount paid to Google. As a keyword costs a good amount of money, a webmaster can make a lot of money even if he clicks on a very few of them on a weekly basis.
Suppose, a webmaster runs many ads on their website and perhaps have had an ad spend of $100, and the AdSense partner would be profiting around $68 out of the ad revenue.
3. Automated fraud clicks through the software
The latest addition to this is that hackers have developed sophisticated click fraud systems using fake IP addresses as well as web sessions. These are called ‘Bot Farms’.
Studies suggest that about half of the internet traffic is bot traffic, that is, non-human. Click bots are made for PPC click frauds. Bots are one of the popular forms of click fraud operation and are automated click farms. Large networks of computers are infected with a sort of malware, but the owners of these networks or computers are completely unaware of the present malware in their devices. These malware results in the silent operation of visiting different websites and clicking on particular ads without any human help. In this, the clicks appear unrelated to each other as they are done by individual IP addresses.
Click farms form a large part of the click fraud operation system and it is more likely that your competitors hire these click farms in order to remove your PPC ads from the search engine results thereby eliminating you from the competition. Click farms are one of the aggressive forms of click fraud operation where click farms are utilized and employees are paid in lieu of clicking on ads all day through. These click farm agencies are usually found in the third world or developing countries with a large population and facing unemployment problems so they get hired for really low wages. The people involved are trained to click on ads in a natural way so it cannot be detected. Click farms are used by internet publishers for increasing their incomes and also by competitor businesses who hire click farms to click on their competitor ads and drain out their ad budget thereby snatching all your clients.
How to detect click frauds?
Irrespective of the highly sophisticated or how well organized are the fraudsters, you can still detect click fraud through a few signs as mentioned below:
Certain anomalies in performance data that are unexplained
Noticing a sudden spike in the spend rates or is your daily budget hitting rapidly? Your conversion rates have suddenly crashed? Bounce rates have risen sky-high?
All these questions are actually signs of potentially fraudulent activities and they are sudden abnormalities with no certain reasons behind it.
Analysis of IP addresses
You can easily track click frauds through the collection of some data that is a part of your internal reporting. You need to collect some information:
- IP address
- Action timestamps
- Click timestamps
Click timestamps and action timestamps allow you in isolating clicks and thereby understanding the time of the clicks when actions are performed on your website. In case you see a high volume of quick series of timestamps from a single IP address, but the least or no number of action timestamps, then it is quite evident that some sort of click fraud is in action. So, you should take action and block all the fraud IP addresses.
How Google detect click frauds?
Google’s systems can detect invalid clicks including fraudulent activities. On identification, Google refunds you the expenses spent on the fraud clicks. You can find this on clicking on ‘Tools”> Setup > ‘Billing & Payments’ section> Transactions >View Transactions and Documents and you can check all your expenses and account credits.
You can also detect click frauds if you see the sudden cause of invalid activity credits made to your account which means Google has already detected the fraud clicks and has refunded you credits for the invalid clicks.
Are Search engines doing anything about it?
Search engines have been criticized for several years down the line and not striving much hard for identifying and eliminating click fraud. Be it a malicious click or not, it generates cash flow to the search engine that display it. Hence, in order to enhance their reputation, the search engines have designated their own task forces to fight against click frauds.
Google has been a slight winner by far for its robust anti-click fraud agenda. Google’s program of click fraud detection has a three-step procedure beginning with automated filters. They also have advanced algorithms that help to pick out and filter the invalid or fraud clicks in real-time and so the advertisers are saved from the charges of the clicks. But this filtering system is not much reliable to detect all types of click frauds; so, Google’s Team for Ad Traffic Quality Centre have started conducting offline and manual analysis for the removal of clicks that seem invalid or fake even the advertisers are charged to pay per click. Apart from these, Google has also introduced processes of investigating of clicks that are found suspicious depending on the reports of the advertisers. All the malicious clicks are detected and categorized as invalid and thereby credits are processed to the advertiser’s accounts. The center enables tracking of each single click for ads displayed on Google and whenever it detects any sort of suspicious behavior, Google automatically refunds the cost per click back to the advertisers. Your ads are continuously monitored by Google’s team regarding click fraud and whenever it gets detected, you get automated refunds. This makes businessmen happy and help Google get a better reputation among advertisers and to show that Google only allows high-quality traffic.
The automated detection system fails to catch all the fraud clicks which in turn means that click fraud still exists. Fraudsters put much of their time and effort into the click fraud campaigns hence it becomes tough to identify each and every fraud click. The fraudsters use automated programs to bring more advancement to click fraud. Some software of click frauds is so advanced that they can easily fake user clicks and thereby avoid detection. The users are still charged for fraud clicks even after the detection process is done.
Advertisers are investing a lot of money for investigating their PPC traffic to check if they are genuine or fake. When they find out spam clicks on their ads that are not detected by Google, they report these fake clicks to Google and Google will check through analysis to verify its invalidity. If it is evident being a fraud click, the amount charged for that specific click would be refunded to the advertiser’s account. This suggests that Google might fail incomplete detection of click frauds but if you provide evidence for your fraud clicks, Google would give back your charged money.
How to eliminate click frauds?
When you are a victim of click frauds and Google’s automated systems have not been enough to save your expenses, you can take a few actions to prevent yourself from click fraud:
Exclusion of suspected IP addresses from Google ads:
If you are able to identify the IP addresses that are associated to fraudulent clicks, you can exclude those IP addresses and block your ads from being displayed on those specific IP addresses in the future and so the user will no longer be able to click on them. You can do this simply, just click on the Google Ads interface> Settings > Additional Settings > IP Exclusions. Plugin the offensive IP addresses and you are good to go.
You need to keep in mind a few things regarding exclusion of IP addresses:
- You can only prevent a single IP for your ads being served from. So, the user can easily see and click ads from a different IP.
- Sophisticated fraudsters have advanced systems by which they can easily get around with IP exclusions. So, this process of IP exclusion can be effective against less tech-savvy fraudsters but it is not enough for the more organized and advanced fraudsters.
- You should repeat the process of detection of suspicious IP addresses and exclude them on regular basis.
Adjustment and exclusion of geographical location:
Only IP addresses would not do for targeting your ad campaigns. If you see a pattern of doubtful clicks is from a certain geographical area, then you should exclude the location on immediate action. Try to find out the location of your key competitors and exclude those locations from your ad targeting. If you know about the location your competitor headquarters, nothing like it, exclude those areas from viewing your ads through Location Targeting. Just click on Settings> Locations and then type the name of the suspicious geographic location and ZIP codes and then click on “exclude”.
This exclusion process can also be done by eliminating zip codes. If you know the postcodes of your competitor headquarters and those codes are not strategically important to you, you can easily exclude them from your ad campaign. The click farms are usually based in poorer countries or third world countries to find out and eliminate those locations. Need help with Your AdWords Management by an expert? Feel free to Contact us.
Eliminate low-quality website placements:
Small and low-quality sites are more prone to be sources for click fraud as they are more likely to get associated with click bots and target your display network ads. Whereas, the more established or large websites tend to have systems that offer assistance for prevention of click frauds. Make sure to keep your website placements relevant in accordance with your products and services to lower the risk of invalid clicks. Follow the steps to exclude placement and Mobile Apps:
Professional software for tracking suspicious click frauds:
In case you don’t have the required time or resources for the tracking and monitoring fraudulent activities, take help from professional specialized software that help you to reduce click frauds. Software enables automated tracking of clicks, detection of click frauds and even block the bots and fraud clickers. Various options are available in the market to help you by providing dedicated reports for identifying suspicious activities on your ads.
Click fraud prevention software like ClickCease helps you to build fraud reports on suspicious activities and provides you with evidences for back up in case you need a proof to show to Google.