Almost as soon as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising was invented click fraud became a problem, a nasty thorn in the side of an otherwise constructive way to advertise on the Internet. As smart phone users become more mobile web savvy and the uptick in online advertising continues to trend, businesses will begin to find more lucrative and safe methods of advertising on the Internet. Pay-per-click advertising has long been a very popular (and successful) way to advertise on the Internet. However, one of the main problems with pay-per-click advertising has been and continues to be battling click fraud.

Click Fraud – The Cockroach That Just Won’t Die

Click fraud benefits the networks and publishers behind the scenes doing the troublesome behavior, leaving no benefit to the advertiser actually paying for the clicks. As previously shared in an earlier article written about the ongoing problem with click fraud is that, “click fraud is bad for advertisers and potential customers alike. It wastes a lot of money and time and can significantly increase the cost of a product or service.” This statement was true about click fraud when the article was published in September 2012, it was true about click fraud five years ago and it is true about click fraud today.

For one reason or another the publisher or network becomes a little greedy and decides to use an automate program to constantly click the ad. Although this practice is unethical and illegal, it is a continuing trend and a very problematic one to solve and prevent. Advertisers bank on a certain percentage of these clicks to generate a sale, but with the advert being auto-clicked, there are no sales but the advertiser is still expected to cough up the cash either way.

Why Is Click Fraud So Prevalent?

The way pay-per-click (PPC) advertising works is simple enough that it almost appears to be inviting bad behavior from those who are technically savvy enough to successfully play the system. Behind a computer is an anonymous person (or team of people), who has very little chance of being caught. Battling and stopping click fraud is a technically difficult task to do successfully.

Unfortunately, when there’s the potential of making a lot of money, fraudsters will come out of the woodwork and will burrow in deep to protect their livelihood. Similar issues can be seen in almost every industry that is flush with cash. The cat and mouse relationship of good versus bad will come out at night and rummage through your house almost entirely without your knowledge. So, why is click fraud so prevalent? Easy. When there’s a lot of money to be made, fraud of some sort will almost always show its ugly face.

What Is Being Done To Combat Click Fraud?

Although it seems impossible to completely get rid of click fraud, some tactics have been put into action to pinpoint where it’s coming from:

Forensic Analysis Fights Click Fraud

Analysis of the web servers belonging to the advertiser can show the source of traffic and the behavior of traffic coming from the server, which can reveal suspicious activity. That said, the apparent flaw in this tactic is that it relies heavily on the middleman to be upfront about the issue – if they’re the ones committing the fraud, this is a no-win solution. 

Third Party Corroboration Fights Click Fraud

According to Wikipedia, third parties are offered Internet based solutions that might involve the placement of single pixel images or JavaScript on the advertiser’s webpage. The website visitor is then presented with a cookie, designed to provide information about their location, computer, behavior and so on. If this person continues to click the pay-per-click advertisements or show other signs of atypical behavioral then they can more easily be flagged and stopped.

Although it seems that there will never be a complete dissolution of click fraud, implementing forensic analysis or third-party corroboration can definitely decrease it and potentially keep it at a minimum. Go to hell Click Fraud. You bum.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud

http://www.google.com/intl/en_ALL/ads/adtrafficquality/index.html

Topics: Internet Advertising, Media Buying & Planning, Click Fraud, Data Analytics

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN and Milwaukee, WI.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.