Most businesses have plenty on their plate right now without needing to worry about how to protect PPC campaigns. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has certainly twisted many marketing strategies, and a lot of businesses are likely looking at how to survive, not just how much to spend on PPC ads.

For those of you running PPC ads in 2020, getting your best possible return on ad spend is likely more crucial than ever. The practice of click fraud and ad fraud is always a threat, with estimates putting the impact on marketing budgets at around 20%. So, how do you make sure your ads are seen by human eyes, and is PPC protection really necessary?

1. Click fraud and ad fraud are hitting new heights every year

Despite high-profile takedowns of ad fraud networks like 3ve and Methbot, the practice of PPC fraud continues to grow. In fact, a study by the University of Baltimore puts the loss to marketers from click fraud at $27.3 billion in 2020. Because the potential for profits is huge, even for a small-scale click fraud operation, even relatively simple click fraud bots can make their developers a tidy income.

2. Big business is taking click fraud seriously

The rise of click fraud and ad fraud has not gone unnoticed by many larger corporations and ad networks. Well, if you were spending millions of dollars a month on ads, you’d look at how you could protect PPC campaigns too… Unilever and P&G are two giants who have amped up their efforts to minimise and eliminate their exposure to ad fraud – with some success. Increasingly, these bigger businesses are finding ways to mitigate or protect against ad fraud. This is, in turn, shifting the focus to SMEs and those with less awareness of the scale of the issue and less capacity to defend against fraud.

3. Bots are harder to spot than ever

It’s estimated that over half of web traffic is automated and that around 25-30% is acting on behalf of fraudulent agents. That is, something like 25% of web traffic is malicious in some way. As the technology behind these bots improves, it becomes harder for your Google algorithms to spot fraudulent activity, meaning less chance of the PPC ad networks protecting you from click fraud.

PPC protection from bot traffic is more important than ever

4. 20% of your marketing to fraudsters is too much

OK, honestly, any amount to fraudsters is too much. At ClickCease, our data suggests that the average PPC ad campaign loses between 15-30% to fraudulent practices, with the average around 20%. This applies to a wide range of industry sectors, not just those you might consider prime targets. And whatever you’re spending on Pay Per Click (PPC), we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t be happy to see 20% of that budget lining the pockets of some devious fraud network. Take a look at how to protect PPC campaigns from fraud and make sure that your ad spend goes where it should…

5. Predicting target keywords or industries is very difficult

Exposure to click fraud or ad fraud is not a constant, and you might find that one week fraudulent activity is close to zero, but the next week it could spike. Although ad fraud is likely to try and target high value keywords, targets shift regularly, so second-guessing which of your keywords will be affected is close to impossible.

6. Competitor click fraud is ‘a thing’

With so much to be gained by your position in the SERPs, a little bit of effort by your competitors can have a huge impact on your PPC return on investment. Spotting duplicate IP addresses, suspicious activity, and other organised click fraud campaigns can be done manually but is time-consuming and technical. To monitor your PPC, protect against click fraud, and be sure that only genuine shoppers are clicking your ads, using anti-click fraud software like ClickCease is best. In fact, this isn’t just our opinion; read this recent case study for an example of how ClickCease can help stop competitors clicking on your pay-per-click ads. 

And, if that wasn’t enough, here’s another one.

7. Social media isn’t immune to PPC fraud

As advertising on social media networks becomes increasingly popular, so these platforms become more attractive to ad fraud. Although the figure of 20-25% fraudulent traffic applies to traditional PPC networks like Google and Bing, the exact figure is less clear on social media networks. Some companies put the figure at 30%, with some reports suggesting over 60%. In short, be wary of click fraud on your Facebook ads

8. Even click farms have become more advanced

The image of a click farm is of a warehouse in a low-income country stuffed full of people clicking on paid ads. Nowadays, the click farm tends to be a bank of smartphones and tablets operated by a few people, meaning there can be some human interaction to make the interaction seem real or to get around captchas. With the growth of botnets and fake news ‘cyborgs’ (which have the potential for being turned into ad fraud), the networks of devices that can be used to carry out click fraud and DDOS attacks are growing bigger by the day. It’s never been more crucial to monitor and protect PPC ads.

If you’d like to know more about these shady operations, you can read our recent investigation into the click farm industry.

9. Covid-19 may have crashed some industries, but others are booming

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is still unfolding at the time of writing, and it’s expected to impact the global economy in ways unseen in the modern era. But, not every business is seeing a negative impact, with some industries seeing a surge in activity on their pay-per-click ads. As part of this, the cost per click is also rising in these industries, giving any fraud on these keywords even more of an impact. Gambling, medical technology, and e-commerce companies should all consider using anti-click fraud software to protect PPC campaigns during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

10. The ad networks still don’t offer enough protection

One part of the problem is that the PPC networks do the bare minimum to defend against PPC fraud. Although Google does spot obvious ‘invalid clicks’, as it refers to any type of suspicious click activity, it doesn’t always filter out the obvious fraud. For example, you may want to protect your PPC ads against clicks from the same IP address, as this is often a sign of click fraud. However, Google doesn’t necessarily qualify this as fraudulent activity, meaning you end up paying for multiple clicks from the same source. Microsoft, Facebook, and the other pay-per-click networks aren’t much better, although there have been some high-profile legal cases against flagrant ad fraud practices in the past few years.

The problem is that, much like Google’s algorithms, fraud is constantly changing, and it often takes a while for the networks to become wise to new developments. Here at ClickCease, our job is to keep an eye on developing trends in click fraud and ad fraud and develop new ways to protect PPC ad campaigns.

How you can easily protect PPC ads

Wondering how your ads are affected by ad fraud or click fraud? ClickCease offers a free trial, so you can check it out for yourself with no obligation. Protect your pay-per-click (PPC) ads from fraudulent parties, be they competitors or shady botnets, and be assured that only genuine humans are seeing your ads.