The Click Fraud Protection Blog | ClickCease
click_farms

Click Farms: a new advertising reality.

A quick Google search of two simple words, “buy clicks” is all the evidence you need: click-

farming is a major problem. Indeed, according to a 2014 investigation launched by AP, click-

farming was and remains a pandemic across all major digital channels. But what could drive a

business to turn to black-market internet influence purchases? What could motivate them to

seek services that exploit the internet and essentially dupe online users?

At least 31% of customers check companies’ website ratings and reviews, including likes and

social media followers, before deciding to engage with the business or make a purchase,

enervating companies who fear that their organic reach is not strong enough to promote

conversions or outsell the competition.

Let’s dive in and learn the ins and outs of the click-farming field.

What Are Click Farms or Click Farming?

A click farm is the digital equivalent of a dairy farm. Only, instead of rows of cattle attached to

milk expressing machines, workers, usually in developing countries, are paid a pittance to sit at

desks, clicking on PPC (pay-per- click) ads, liking or following websites, social media posts and

accounts or creating fake profiles to benefit the commissioning company or individual.

Thus, while click-farming does increase a company or influencer’s visibility, it also tends to

mislead customers who are unlikely to engage with a less “liked” or “followed” establishment.

Who commissions a click farm’s services?

The logic is simple: having lots of followers increases the flow of new followers to a company or

influencer’s website or social media page – so long as they convert. A growth in click-rates, likes

or followers directly correlates with augmented digital influence – and subsequent immediate or

future endorsements or transactions.

As such, click farms are employed by companies and influencers who wish to boost their digital

influence. Though never officially confirmed, large international corporations such as Louis

Vuitton and Coca-Cola, politicians including Mitt Romney and celebrities like socialite Paris

Hilton and rap star 50 Cent have all been accused of hiring click farms to “buy” their

considerable digital social media followings.

Those seeking to continuously boost their reach can “buy” clicks or likes from click farms,

increasing their chances of appearing in Google searches or Facebook newsfeeds and boosting

the visibility of products available for purchase. If however, the competition maliciously employs

a click farm to repeatedly click on a company’s landing page without the clicks leading to even a

single transaction, the company’s PPC ad budget will rapidly deplete and the affected

business falls from the ranks of search engine results – making advertising both expensive and

unproductive.

Click farms are harming the field of digital advertising.

block click fraud

Click-farming undermines the chief principle behind digital advertising. Namely, that marketers

can use the internet – including company websites, search engines and social media – to reach

and motivate real people, generating leads and promoting conversions that will ultimately

increase their profit margins.

Regardless of the motivations behind the commission, those who hire click farms do so to drum

up initial influence, but since the influence is fake and inorganic, the actions taken by click farms

cannot and do not foster long-term or future engagement. While utilizing a click farm’s services

may at first boost clicks, engagement and ultimately visibility decrease, as the digital

relationships are not continuously nurtured. Click-farmed digital interactions do not convert.

They do, however, decrease a company or influencer’s organic reach with time.

Conversely, a decrease in visibility increases paid advertising fees. This is true even for those

who do not “buy” the influence themselves, but have unfortunately fallen prey to click farmers

working for the competition, costing the business or influencer advertising money, without

participating in further relationship-fostering activities (continued engagement and conversion).

What can YOU do to prevent click-farming harm?

Since the activities of click farmers mimic those of actual website and social media network

visitors, it can be extremely difficult to weed the real followers from the fake.

On a personal level, you – the company marketer, social media or celebrity personality – should

regularly monitor your digital channels for new followers and engagement, removing or blocking

those likely to be false accounts. Keep in mind that real leads will boost your visibility by

repeatedly interacting with your social media profile or by making purchases on your website.

Fake leads may like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, but won’t continue to engage

and will not convert.

You may also opt to commission the services of a click fraud specialist – a company that uses

technology to filter traffic and ward off hackers, bots and click farms from clicking on your ads

and depleting your PPC budget. The click fraud specialist attacks competitor click fraud,

outsmarting even those fraudsters who managed to sneak past existing Google or Bing anti-

click fraud technologies and preventing the competition from blocking your businesses from

appearing in Google’s search results.

Click farms may seem like the answer for some companies or influencers seeking to expand

their digital reach, but they ultimately cause more harm than good. Monitoring your own digital

channels for fake initial engagement, or employing a click fraud specialist to complement the

anti-click fraud efforts already implemented by search engine filters can make a significant

difference in your online visibility and subsequent ROI.

Ilan Missulawin

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