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Click Fraud is taking over?If you've been affected by click fraud, how should you deal with it? Marketing analytics can help. Have you ever visited a social media site, seen a not-so-interesting story with thousands of likes, and clicked on it, mainly because others were clicking? If you answered yes, you may have been duped by click fraud - and you are not alone.

The Wall Street Journal last year reported that 36 percent of Web traffic is spawned by click fraud programs and bots, and the cost to the global digital display advertising industry was approximately $11.6 billion in 2014.

The statistics are shocking, but don’t fret - this blog will show you what to watch out for and how to deal with click fraud, when traversing cyberspace.

What Is Click Fraud?

Click fraud is the act of generating invalid ad impressions either using people to manually click on ads, or non-human sources – such as lines of code that automatically click on adverts, in order to drive up advertising costs with no intention of conducting business with the advertiser. As digital marketing programs operate via pay-per-click, this can drive up the marketer’s cost per action and overall ad spend significantly.

Marketing Analytics Can Help

Some marketers spend lots of money on paid advertising without any real visibility into what they’re getting back. Using unsophisticated tracking techniques, some can’t even attribute which marketing campaigns are generating the most leads or ROI – let alone the percentage of fraudulent interactions.

Marketers need to identify click fraud using sophisticated marketing analytics that rely on performance-based metrics. They can use these to delve into the metrics of their paid campaigns and reconcile the data with the number of clicks and amount of spend on each campaign. If the ROI isn’t there, it could well be the result of click-happy bots or scripts.

What Can You Do?

Luckily, automatic click fraud is easy to trace, as it normally comes from the same IP address. However, manual click fraud is harder to trace, as a lot of it can be attributed to accidental clicks.

Google has devised a three-tiered system to deal with the threat:

  • Automatic filter: This filters out invalid clicks in real time. They don’t appear in your reports and you’re not charged for them.
  • Proactive Analysis: Google investigates anomalies and fluctuations. If anything erroneous appears to have been carried out, your company will be credited.
  • Your own analysis: You can raise a query yourself with Google by filling in an online form and submitting information from your own investigation. This step is important. The best chance you have of steering your costs away from the threat of click fraud is to monitor the situation yourself.

Note: Originally published at Clickz.com on February 2, 2015.

Topics: Click Fraud, Data Analytics, Online Advertising, Bot Traffic

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.