Millions of dollars are lost to click fraud every year, and Google has been developing strategies to fight this for years. Click fraud is when an illegitimate action occurs in a business’s paid online advertising – such as clicks resulting from malware, which stack up to the number of clicks, or clicks coming from competitors in an attempt to spend a campaign budget without it reaching its targeted audience.
Google calls it “invalid clicks”, but it’s also fraud if a malicious program was created to generate clicks for publisher revenue which are fake or fraudulent. So what exactly does constitute as click fraud?
1. Manual Clicks To Raise Advertising Costs
This is one of the most prevalent types of click fraud, and it occurs when two businesses compete for the use of the same or similar keywords. One company could drive up the other’s advertising expenses by sending their clicks through the roof – by doing it themselves or hiring people to do it for them. Typically, a business would think that they’ll get an ROI with the leads they’re generating. In this instance, however, no prospects have been generated, and so there will be no return on investment.
2. Automated Clicking Tools
Automated clicking tools refer to robots or software which run on internet servers or hijacked computers. They are made to seem like legitimate users; however, they create a massive number of false clicks, impressions, engagements and website traffic. Google uses automated filters which captures this activity, and they have also partnered with the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). With TAG, they’ve created a list of common click fraud activities to flag to try to stop botnets from harming publishers and advertisers through illegal methods such as crawler traffic and cookie-stuffing.
As Google continues to add improvements to its click fraud detection, it serves as a reminder to legitimate businesses that best practise will always overcome dodgy tactics by malicious online fraudsters.