Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is often billed as an affordable way to advertise online because you are not paying for traffic you’re not getting. And so it is. But PPC advertising can get very expensive when you combine high-cost keywords with a lot of clicks. That being the case, the last thing you need is click fraud.
What is click fraud? It is the practice of generating fraudulent clicks on PPC ads for the purposes of driving revenue, getting revenge, or harming a competitor. Most click fraud is designed to earn money for the perpetrator. The perpetrator sets up an ad publishing platform, brings customers on board, then incessantly clicks on customer ads so that they can charge more.
Bidding on Keywords
What makes PPC advertising unique is the bidding process associated with it. In a search engine or mobile scenario, ads are displayed based mainly on embedded keywords. Therefore, advertisers bid on the keywords they want to target with their ads. The higher an advertisers bid, the more often its ads will be displayed on that platform.
Advertiser keyword choices tend to be similar or identical to the keywords they prefer for SEO purposes. These are well-researched keywords determined to get the best results. But here is the thing: multiple companies in the same industry often want the same keywords. That is why PPC ad platforms force advertisers to bid.
In highly competitive industries, the best performing keywords ultimately become the most expensive for PPC advertising. Advertisers who do not want to spend big bucks on those keywords have options. The first option is to search out new keywords that are less competitive but could still be highly effective. A second option is to shift advertising to less popular platforms where competition for the most coveted keywords isn’t so stiff.
PPC Invites Click Fraud
Unfortunately, PPC advertising actually invites click fraud through its payment model. When you advertise through a PPC publisher, you only pay for the clicks you receive. Let’s say you bid $0.50 for your best keywords. If a particular ad receives 1,000 clicks, you pay $500. If the ad gets 2,000 clicks, your bill is $1,000.
This model dictates that it is in the best interests of the publisher to encourage as many clicks as possible. More clicks equal more revenue. To someone who would perpetrate click fraud, the prospect of generating fraudulent clicks is too tempting to turn down.
Prevention Requires Diligence
If there is any good news here, it is the fact that click fraud can be prevented to a certain degree. The makers of the Fraud Blocker software say the key is diligence. The more diligent advertisers are about monitoring their traffic and looking for potential fraud, the greater the chances of discovering any such fraud and putting a stop to it.
Just as there are many ways to perpetrate click fraud, there are also multiple ways to uncover it. A good click fraud monitoring software package is the starting point. When click fraud is uncovered, steps can be taken. IP addresses can be blocked; ad placement can by modified; potentially fraudulent publishers can be abandoned in favor of new publishers with better reputations.
The long and short of it is that click fraud can cost advertisers tons of money. It is worse when advertisers are spending big bucks on the most expensive keywords in their industries. High keyword bids, combined with persistent click fraud, can completely deplete an advertiser’s marketing budget. That is not good regardless of how much a company dedicates to digital marketing.