Speak to anyone working in digital marketing and almost all of them have heard of click fraud and ad fraud. But ask them if they think it affects them and the answer is often, “Probably not”.
I actually spoke to a marketing manager a few weeks back who mentioned he didn’t think that fake clicks were a problem in his industry.
“But what kind of ads do you run?”, I asked
“The usual Google, some Facebook Ads and we’ve had some good results with our Instagram Ads too”
“And have you run any kind of diagnostic on the traffic you’re getting?”
He admitted he hadn’t but that his analytics had been satisfactory, and they had gotten some good conversions for their efforts.
OK, to be fair, the business was a kinda niche industry within logistics.
But here’s the thing. Those conversions and those clicks only tell half the story. Probably less than half.
If you’re running display ads or any ads on social media, the chances that bot traffic passes through your ads isn’t just extremely high. It’s a given.
In fact, when some of the biggest brands in the world stopped running with paid ads, they saw little to no change in their business.
It turns out that the volume of bot traffic on some platforms is so high, and most of it bypasses inbuilt fraud filters, that stopping online ads made no difference to their overall conversions.
That’s fine if you’re eBay, Proctor & Gamble or Chase bank. But if you’re a plucky startup, an underdog trying to improve your market share or fighting for visibiliy in a competitive industry, how do you get the word out there?
Business still needs…. Digital advertising!
Yup. Getting the word out online means either waiting ages for your organic results to start delivering (maybe). Or… Use PPC and other forms of digital advertising.
And this means that the vast majority of businesses online will use some form of paid advertising online. And the biggest platform, by far, is Google Ads.
Our own data here at ClickCease shows that around 90% of all Google Ads campaigns are affected by invalid traffic. This is most commonly in the form of bots, which make up over half of all internet traffic.
Google Ads campaigns protected by ClickCease tend to block around 15% of all traffic as fake or fraudulent. This covers everything from malicious or multiple clicks; traffic from VPNs; click bots, web scrapers and data center traffic.
But what about in your industry? How many fake clicks do your ads really see?
For paid search results, invalid clicks tend to come from accidental double clicks and malicious clickers (such as competitors and brand haters).
Ads on the GDN tend to see more clicks from bots, VPNs and niche operating systems. Why is this?
Put simply, display ads can be hosted on thousands of websites. Many of these websites, including the well known ones, are visited by large volumes of bots and traffic that might be deemed ‘invalid’.
There is a huge industry in creating websites designed soley for backlinks. These sites are often packed full of crappy content and then monetised with Google Adsense banners. The publishers then inflate their metrics with bought traffic, so they can sell more backlinks and earn more money from ad revenue. It’s a vicious and expensive circle that advertisers are paying for and one that is hard to break.
Search ads are obviously triggered by a search on Google, which *normally* means a human needs to enter that search term. Vindictive clickers might click on those paid results a few times, if they think it’ll cause the company damage. An example of this can be seen in the recent organised click fraud campaign by fans of Premier League football team Manchester United.
But it doesn’t need to be this extreme.
Accidental clicks or double clicks are usually excluded by Google using their own invalid click filters. And they do also eliminate obvious bot clicks from display ads too.
My industry isn’t affected by click fraud….
Looking at our data here at ClickCease, we see that a large percentage of traffic still falls under the heading of ‘technically useless’. By this we mean, a high bounce rate, not in the correct geo-location and often originating in data centres or with locations masked by private networks.
But what about the industries affected by click fraud and ad fraud?
A common misconception is that only industries which are super competitive, or those with expensive keywords, will see high volumes of click fraud.
The truth is that click fraud can and does happen on campaigns across almost every industry. From billion dollar financial products like insurance, all the way to smaller or niche sectors such as arts and crafts or pet products.
Looking at some of our clients here at ClickCease, even those with low percentages of overall fraud can see a large financial loss.
As an example, one client in the tourism sector had fraud levels at 3.5%. But by blocking these fraud clicks they saved over $24,000 per month.
The best way to see how much click fraud affects your ad campaigns is to run a diagnostic with ClickCease. This allows you to get some great insight into the types of traffic that are really clicking your ads, and the keywords that attract the highest volumes of invalid traffic, among others.