ClickCease Blog
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The A-Z of Click Fraud

Learn the terms most associated with click fraud

A – AdWords

AdWords is Google’s advertising network where advertisers, whether companies or individuals, bid on certain keywords for their ads to appear in Google’s search results. Google AdWords is by far the most popular search network among advertisers. It’s so popular that Google makes around 97% of its revenue (about $30 billion) from advertisers paying per click.

B – Blocking

Blocking click fraud from affecting your ads can be done manually or automatically. Manually blocking click fraud and protecting your ads is labor intensive, and many advertisers lack the time or resources to do it properly. Automatically blocking fraudulent clicks is the ideal route, as your ads are protected 24/7.

C – Competitors

Competitors are the main perpetrators behind click fraud. Competitors click on ads to drain advertisers’ ad budgets and run companies out of the marketplace.

D – Detection

Detecting click fraud on ads is straightforward. You can detect fraud the second you experience an unusually high amount of clicks on your ads. If you normally get 20 clicks per hour, receiving 100 clicks per hour all of the sudden is a definite red flag.

E – Execution of Click Fraud

Click Fraud is executed many ways. If a competitor wants to hike up your ad spend and potentially put you out of business, they can either get a person to click on your ads, or create a bot to carry out the fraud. Because it’s a tedious and mindless task, bots are the more common route.

F – Farms

Click farms are rapidly growing in number, and creating a massive problem for advertisers and search networks. A click farm is the digital equivalent of a dairy farm, only instead of rows of cattle, there are workers. Click farms are often in developing countries, and “employees” get paid a pittance to sit at desks and click on competitor ads over and over again.

G – Geos

Geo-location data is a great way to determine which IPs to block your ads from. If you’re a plumber in Chicago, there’s no reason you should be receiving clicks from Pakistan or India. Anti Click fraud solutions like ours, offer map data so you can see where exactly the fraudulent clicks are coming from. Read more about geo-location detection here.

H – Hijacked

Device hijacking can be done to a mobile device or desktop computer. It makes companies and ad agencies think real people saw their ads, and ends up costing them millions every year. You most often get hijacked by click fraud malware, also known as a botnet.

I – IP

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a numerical identifier assigned to every computer connect to a computer network. Because an IP is the person behind the click, it’s a great way to detect and stop click fraud. It’s important to identify the IP address that’s associated with the fraudulent clicks, see where they’re located, how many times they’ve clicked, and if they’re a previous customers. If your answers don’t match up, you should block the IP.

J – Javascript Disable

A captcha security system is an effective way to disable targeting bots. But many people avoid them as they’re annoying and frustrating for users. Create a honeypot field using JavaScript and CSS. A honeypot field is an invisible field that only bots can see, which they mistakenly fill in instead of the real one. This is a clear sign that you’re being targeted by bots.

K Keywords

Always be aware of your keywords and what you’re paying for. It’s important because when fraud occurs, the IP often clicks on esoteric keywords within a campaign. This means that the clicker has done the research and is informed about what they’re targeting.

L – Legality

There is no law protecting advertisers from click fraud. This is because click fraud happens so fast, and attacks can come from countries around the world. It’s therefor hard for legislators to create a body of laws that pinpoint the act of click fraud and claim it illegal. It’s also hard to decipher fraudulent clicks from legitimate ones, making click fraud difficult to identify and even more difficult to tackle.

M – Malware

The goal of click fraud malware attacks is to take control of computers in order to have them carry out click fraud. The malware also aims to infect and spread to as many computers as possible. Since click fraud malware get sent via email, it’s important to understand which emails are legitimate, and which are not. Look out for:

  • Email text with typos
  • Unknown recipient
  • Unfamiliar links
  • Urgency in the writing of the email

N – Networks

There are several advertising networks, the most popular being Google AdWords. Other ad networks include Bing, AdRoll, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s a smart choice to be on different networks, or try ones and see which work best for you, in order to grow your accounts and their returns.

O Over the threshold

A threshold is a good way to determine which IPs will be tagged as fraudulent. The best way to determine a good threshold is to evaluate your business’ characteristics. How many times does it takes a genuine customer to click on your ads before they convert? If an ad is clicked over the threshold amount, the ad should automatically get blocked for that IP.


PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, is a digital marketing model. It’s where advertisers pay to promote their brand or product through ads, and pay a small fee each time their ad is clicked. The rise of PPC campaigns has done incredible things for companies. It lets them target specific demographics. It also puts them in front of consumers in a way that was never possible before. PPC has became a necessity for companies of all sizes and industries. It’s important to note that as incredible as PPC is for companies, it has its downsides, like exposing companies to competitors. This has led to the increase in click fraud over the years.

Q – Quick fixes
Implement these manual quick fixes to protect your campaigns:

Set Up IP Exclusions: Identify the IP address that’s associated with the fraudulent clicks you’re getting, and then set up an exclusion to block your ad from being shown to the specific IP.

Run Remarketing Campaigns: With remarketing campaigns, you’re only showing ads to people who’ve visited your page in the past. This ensures your ads are only visible to relevant audiences.

Adjust Your Targeting: Exclude certain regions and their languages if you suspect suspicious activity. You should also target niche sites and demographics that you’re familiar with.

Use Smart Techniques to Throw Off Bots: Try using a captcha security system or a honeypot field to trick bots from clicking your ads.

R – Refunds

If your account has been charged for fraudulent clicks, you may be entitled to a refund from your search network. AdWords, for example, will investigate, and if the clicks are found to be fraudulent, AdWords will reimburse your account, but only 2-3 weeks after the fraud took place. You have a chance of getting some money back, but your ad would be taken down for a few hours or days.

S – Savings  

You can save money easily with our refund claims feature, which automatically submits a refund claim to Google AdWords on your behalf. Our clients love the feature because although AdWords has practices in place, receiving a refund is not always simple. Read more about savings, here.

T – Thresholds

Set specific click thresholds for every ad to help you determine fraudulent clicks from legitimate ones. It’s not surprising that a locksmith probably shouldn’t be getting 50 clicks from the same IP, while a shoe store wouldn’t be phased by 60 clicks from the same IP.

U – Ugly social media fraud

Click fraud can happen to you whether you’re using popular search networks or social media to run your campaigns. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Yelp are filled with fraudsters and scams that can hurt both your brand and your advertising budget.

Social media fraud can be in the form of fake likes that hurt your consumer engagement, and even fake accounts that drain your advertising budget from impressions.


A VPN (virtual private network), allows computers to browse privately by disguising themselves as browsing from a different location or country. If you see you’re getting clicks from an IP address that’s using a VPN, something fishy may be going on. This could potentially mean that a click from a click fraud farm in India is disguising itself as a click from America. Make sure to pick up on IPs using VPN by using the ClickCease fraud analytics page.

W – Who’s Affected

Anybody can be affected by click fraud. Targets range from small online stores to public service workers, and multi-million dollar ecommerce platforms. That being said, there are 3 industries in particular that are more vulnerable to click fraud than others. The 3 most affected industries or categories of business, are finance, family, and food. The reason for this is that they all have a relatively high cost-per-click (CPC) and search volume. Most affected micro-industries are: locksmiths, DUI lawyers, water damage repair experts, and dentists.

X – X-Ray

Think of your PPC campaigns as a person getting an X-Ray. The goal is to see through the flesh and muscle, and identify the problem area/s. Be aware of click fraud and the possible damage it can cause your brand and bank account.

Y – Your Best protection strategy

Anyone looking to stop click fraud from effecting their PPC campaigns should take an all-encompassing approach. This means both manual and automatic protection methods should be implemented. Manual protection strategies include minor tweaks to your accounts, while automatic strategies include using a software to protect your campaigns 24/7.

Z – Zapping fraud

There is only 1 way to truly zap fraud. Over 274,000 campaigns in 181 countries are protected with ClickCease, so what are you waiting for?

Ilan Missulawin

Ilan is a co-founder and the CMO of ClickCease since 2015.
When he isn't dreaming about click fraud you can find him writing about it.
Two of his favorite things in life are: Peppa Pig and writing about himself in third person.

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