Over the past several years advertising on digital platforms has grown exponentially, with an estimated 99 billion U.S. dollars spent on paid search1 this year. Unfortunately, with that growth has come an increase in digital ad fraud to an estimated 15 billion U.S. dollars2 last year.
When we suspected a legal client of ours was experiencing click fraud through a high volume of ad clicks from unusual locations, we intervened by strengthening our campaign monitoring and optimization by adding ad fraud protection technology.
By deploying a multi-pronged AI-assisted ad fraud blocking process over one quarter, we were able to uncover and prevent click fraud that resulted in:
- 46% cleaner traffic
- 5,500+ fewer fraudulent clicks
- $89,000+ saved
Interested in the details? Read on.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud happens when any person or computer program repeatedly clicks on a pay-per-click (PPC) ad to generate fraudulent charges to the advertiser. There are many ways to perpetrate fraud, but some common methods are:
- Click Fraud Bots
An automated process where a bot repeatedly generates clicks on ads.
- Click Farms
An organization available for hire that employs a large group of low-paid individuals to click on paid ads to benefit their employer.
- Competitor Click Abuse
A competitor repeatedly clicks on ads to increase charges to the advertiser.
- Location Fraud
Clickers attempt to hide their location by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to change their online geolocation.
Click fraud is a growing problem that varies based on many factors, including industry, time of year, and location. Click fraud also varies among industries, with some as high as 65% while others, such as legal services, experience a much lower click fraud rate of 14%.3
Preventing Click Fraud
So how do you keep click fraud out of your business’s digital advertising? You take a technology-forward approach through rigorous human and digital monitoring of your PPC campaigns for a
- high volume of ad clicks,
- unusual location of ad clicks,
- risky publisher placements, and
- suspicious IP addresses,
so that you can identify and block fraudulent activity. Through this type of ai-assisted monitoring, you’ll better understand how users interact with your digital marketing and advertising. You can then use this knowledge to optimize current and future marketing efforts.
It’s worth noting that Google and other pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers monitor and filter for ad fraud, but often it’s up to businesses to inform providers of fraud. And while they do refund money spent on fraudulent clicks, it can take up to six weeks for companies to receive refunds. That timeframe represents many opportunity costs for a business, especially if the fraud rate and dollars are high.
Stopping Click Fraud for Our Legal Client
In the case of our digitally mature legal client, we had multiple indicators of a growing click fraud problem.
- Increase in Invalid Clicks
As we increased advertising spending, the number of invalid clicks year-over-year (YoY) grew more than 500% — significantly disproportionate to our increase in spending.
- Disproportional Invalid Click Rates
Our invalid click rates began to differ significantly from prior months and were not proportional to our increased advertising spending.
- Increase in Invalid Click Refunds
The automatic refunds from search platforms for invalid clicks increased significantly and disproportionately to the campaign spend.
As we researched where click fraud originated, we identified that a significant percentage of click fraud came from:
- Non-human traffic
When programs or bots click an ad
- Fraudulent devices
A device with high ad click rates
- Over threshold
IP addresses with high ad click rates
Additionally, we identified that specific practice areas had higher click fraud rates than others. VA Disability and Workers’ Comp had the highest instances, with 45% of all fraudulent clicks during the quarter, while Nursing Home Abuse had the fewest.
It’s important to note:
- If we only looked at indicators such as Cost-per-Conversion (CPC) or Conversion Rates, the data would have indicated that this PPC campaign was performing well. But since we regularly and routinely monitor multiple campaign data points, including those that indicate fraud, we were able to implement click-fraud blocking technologies that resulted in 46% cleaner traffic for the client.
- Part of selecting advertising channels involves weighing the platform’s effectiveness in conjunction with any fraud that may occur. Paid Search advertising with appropriate monitoring is well worth using for legal services. It is highly cost-effective, and it reaches people when they’re searching for legal assistance.
Improve Your PPC Advertising Effectiveness
Paid search advertising can be a valuable tool for small businesses. Due to the complex nature of PPC ad campaigns, many businesses choose to partner with a trusted PPC ad agency, such as New Path Digital, to help create and maintain their paid search ad campaigns.
Paid search campaigns allow you to connect with your prospects at the exact moment they are looking for your product or service. From keyword research and bidding strategy to copywriting and targeting, New Path helps you work smarter, not harder, so you can get found online.
Whether you want to improve brand recognition, generate leads, or increase sales, New Path has your back, so you grow into the future. Ready to start maximizing your advertising investments? Contact us today or view Our Services to learn more about our offerings.
1 eMarketer; MediaPost; Insider Intelligence, Sept. 2022
2 Borrell Associates; Radio Ink – April 2017
3 ClickCease, What Is Click Fraud? The Complete Guide 2022