Are you struggling to turn a profit with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising? Assuming you are targeting right keywords with highly optimized ads and landing pages, invalid clicks could be responsible for your negative return on investment (ROI). But did you know PPC fraud is rampant throughout the industry with everything from bots to click farms being used to reduce profitability of your pay-per-click advertising?

What Is Click Fraud?

Pay-per-click advertising is popular with everyone from affiliate marketing professionals to SEO agencies (search engine optimization). Research shows roughly one in five ad clicks are invalid. Known as click fraud, these invalid clicks can inflate your PPC advertising costs and lower your ROI when ignored.

Click fraud is act of clicking an advertiser's ads, typically an excessive number of times, with malicious or illegitimate intent. A competitor, for example, may click your ads to drive up your PPC advertising costs. You won't generate any sales or conversions from competitor, regardless of how many times he or she clicks your ads, but you will incur charges for these clicks.

With click fraud, you essentially pay for invalid clicks that don't yield revenue. As your ROI drops, you may be forced to lower your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bids, thereby forfeiting ad rankings and visibility to competitor or person who's behind invalid clicks.

While most instances of click fraud involve a competitor, some involve a disgruntled customer or employee. If a customer had a particularly bad experience with your business he or she may seek revenge by clicking your ads. Alternatively, a former or current employee may click your ads if they had a bad experience. Click fraud encompasses all illegitimate and malicious ad clicks.

Click fraud can occur on any PPC platform, but some platforms are more susceptible to it than others. 3 main PPC platforms, Google Ads, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads, proactively monitor traffic for invalid clicks to protect advertisers from click fraud. Even without any action on your behalf, its wise to scan your ad clicks to determine whether they are legitimate using click-fraud tools.

Luckily for PPC advertisers, there are now software tools available to help discover and reduce amount of fraudulent click activity an advertiser has to deal with. If you're an advertiser using pay-per-click link ads and banner ads, there are always top-rated click-fraud tools you should know about.

Yes. Click Fraud Can Hurt Your Business

Click fraud has probably been around since dawn of paid  advertising on Internet. It mainly applies to generating fraudulent  clicks on PPC ads, but it's also loosely applied to generating invalid  views for PR ads and even video ads. In fact, as video advertising has  become more popular with marketers, it's also become a more common target for online criminals.

Most people who promote businesses with digital marketing know about click fraud. However, end users might not understand scope  of problem and that it's getting worse for many digital marketers  Ignoring fraudulent traffic can eat up marketing budgets, throw off  campaign statistics, and even ruin companies.

Consider some statistics from KEYSOME: Out of several dozen large advertisers surveyed, average losses per company totaled about $10 million. Advertisers said that most expensive traffic sources suffered more than cheaper ones. Some advertisers believed that over a quarter of paid traffic came from bots and not human visitors. The survey estimated worldwide losses at close to $7 billion. The overall loss figures might not surprise some savvy digital marketers

Click Fraud is a Growing Problem

In  early days of paid advertising, fraudsters manually generated clicks or views. They weren't very sophisticated, didn't generate huge losses for  advertisers, and were fairly easy for advertisers and advertising  platforms to catch. Today's sophisticated fraudsters use automated bots that can replicate actions of a human user  closely. Even though some advertisers and advertising platforms have  become more careful about catching invalid clicks and views, y still aren't all keeping up with  criminals.

Still, it's likely that most advertisers don't expect their most expensive traffic sources to be as riddled with fraud as cheaper ones. It makes sense for criminals to generate  most revenue that y can. At  same time, marketers expect to pay more for high-quality or  more targeted online visitors. It's important to understand that paying more for traffic may not provide any guarantee that visitors are legitimate.

Tackling Click-Fraud

Ever since Google first introduced its wildly successful AdSense program, the company has wrestled with a problem of how to tell legitimate clicks from fraudulent ones. As the program has grown and more and more webmasters have jumped on board, the problem of click fraud has continued to grow, and Google has continued to look for ways to provide more value for its advertisers while still rewarding  those who host its ads.

One of the newest innovations being tested by the world's most successful search engine is  a program that rewards webmasters when visitors perform specific actions, such as buying a product, completing a survey or signing up for  a service. With this pay for a performance model, Google hopes to  tackle the problem of click fraud once and for all, without punishing  the honest webmasters who have made the program such a success.

Companies can take effective steps to reduce fraudulent traffic. Many advertising platforms already work hard to prevent illegitimate traffic. They do this to maintain their reputation and to improve customer profitability. Many advertisers also implement their own analytics programs  that help them determine which website traffic comes from bots and which traffic comes from people.

It won't be surprising, to learn  that both traffic sellers and buyers that used software to control this  kind of actions that suffered less than those that did not. Few ways that marketers and can help fight click fraud is embracing High-quality advertising platforms should have written policies to refund their customers for fraud.  Traffic sellers should also have strong anti-fraud software in place to monitor their network.

Thanks for reading!