Click fraud is the act of clicking on a pay per click advert, such as Google Ads, with no intention of buying or using the product or service. In many cut-throat industries, this nefarious practice is carried out by competitors seeking to exhaust a rival’s ad spend, while also preventing them from acquiring new customers.
These competitive actions have spiralled during COVID 19 as bad actors in sectors from plumbing to photography, seek to cut corners and eliminate competitors with some sectors facing click fraud rates of up to 40%.
Here, we look at five businesses that have spoken out about fast-rising competitor click fraud.
- Las Vegas Golfing company tees off in fight over click fraud
Las-Vegas based online golf equipment retailer Motogolf.com is suing a competitor, alleging their competitor violated federal and state law by repeatedly clicking on Motogolf’s pay-per-click online Google ads.
According to the court complaint, once viewers have clicked the set number of ads in a given day, the ads become “exhausted” and are no longer visible for potential customers.
Beyond having their ads appear on users’ web browsers, Motogolf says it has also been denied valuable demographic data depriving them of valuable data to fine tune their marketing strategy.
Motogolf alleges that the clicking on their ads cost the company at least $5000. They also alleged that their competitor’s employees used various electronic devices to intentionally click on Motogolf’s online pay-per-click ads “in an illegitimate manner calculated to cause damage to Motogolf.”
- UK plumbing company finds sabotage from competitors
Matt Robinson of 12-person Palace Plumbers in the UK which uses ClickCease to prevent click fraud attacks, says: “Our industry is extremely competitive and I’m sure there are other companies and sole traders that have resorted to sabotaging our account. We rely heavily on online advertising, with 80% of our business currently comes through online ads. This is slowly decreasing as word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat-business increases.”
The company nevertheless spends £3,000 per month on PPC campaigns and believes that losses from click fraud have amounted to “at least a couple of thousand pounds”.
Robinson adds: “I began to notice that our activity would spike at certain times of the day and deplete our daily budget. This always seemed to be around the daily peak period of 10:00 am -12:00 pm.
- Dirty dealings in Aussie Waste Disposal
In the field of waste disposal, a specialist in Australia noticed he was receiving outsized clicks on his Google Ads PPC campaigns. This exhausted their budget without a corresponding rise in the number of calls. Using ClickCease, he noticed that the same device IDs were showing up regularly.
The waste disposal manager called around his competitors to ask if they were experiencing similar problems. They were. This led to a planned summit of the six leading waste disposal companies in the city.
Each of the business owners decided to collectively look at their data. On the day of the meeting, only five of the six competitors arrived. These five competitors discovered they had suffered from the racking up of clicks – all from the same device ID in the exact same location in Australia.
Everyone agreed it had to be the (no show) sixth player that was clicking on rival ads. The owners of these companies each wrote to this suspect and presented their findings.
The very next day, the fraudulent clicks stopped, and all of the businesses involved reported that their PPC ads began to behave as expected.
- B2B Software Click battles
PPC campaigns not only seek consumer clicks. Highly competitive B2B software vendors see invalid click rates at rates of around 9%, according to ClickCease data.
Callum McKeefery Founder & CEO of REVIEWS.io, which offers a solution allowing clients of a business to review their product or service online, says: “This has happened to us a lot. A competitor has continuously clicked on our paid ad. There was one device in Melbourne, Australia that clicked on our ad, once every couple of days, but on really expensive keywords. These keywords cost between $13 and $19 a click. Competitors are doing this on hundreds of devices.”
- Law firm ad spending attacked
Stephan Futeral, CEO of JustLaw, a digital marketing agency for law firms speaks about the considerable impact of click fraud. He managed a PPC campaign for a DUI defense firm spending $20,000 a month. He soon found strange analytics infecting his PPC campaign. He says: “I have encountered substantial fraudulent activities that, if left unchecked, cause significant financial losses and poor campaign performance.”
He added: “ClickCease has simplified and automated that entire process for us. In fact, the service catches much more fraudulent activity than we uncovered manually.”
If you think there is a strong case for a competitor to click your ads, or you suspect that your PPC Ads aren’t performing as well as they should be, try ClickCease for free. With a 7-day free trial, you can see for yourself if there is any strange activity on your paid ads and use the powerful tools of ClickCease to stop competitor click fraud!