Click fraud — what is it and how to protect yourself from it?

In contextual advertising, click fraud — is understood as deliberate repeated clicks on ads in order to waste the advertiser’s budget. Unfortunately, this happens quite often, so almost any advertiser may need high-quality anti-click protection.

How do I detect fraud?

The main signs of click fraud are:

  • Unexpected and unjustified increase in the number of clicks on your ads.
  • Unexpected and unjustified increase in the CTR indicator.
  • A large number of clicks on contextual advertising made from the same IP addresses.

The advertising systems themselves also try to track abnormal changes in these indicators, since linking harms not only specific advertisers, but also online advertising systems, creating a negative image for them.

How does linking work?

Today, click fraud can be divided into four types of fraud:

  1. Competitors — their goal is to waste the unwanted competitor’s funds allocated for online advertising;
  2. Site owners — click on ads on their sites to increase earnings;
  3. Professional clickers — earn money by clicking ads of» ordered » competitors;
  4. Pests — click simply out of a desire to harm.

And two types of implementation:

  1. Manual — in most themes, it is not able to cause significant damage due to low performance and low CPC.
  2. Automated — can cause significant harm, since the process is automated, and its performance is significantly higher than that of the manual approach.

How do I protect myself from sklicking?

To identify a fraudster, you need to use web analytics and server-side. log files. This will allow you to record user actions.

Manual click fraud

  1. Pay attention to frequently recurring IP addresses. When manually linking, people often do this without changing the IP address.
  2. Analyze the time spent on the site for suspicious users. Usually, the time spent by the scammer on the page is quite short (a few seconds).

Automated click fraud

  1. Pay attention to frequently repeated IP addresses, as well as sessions from the same providers/sub-networks.
  2. Analyze the Geo affiliation of suspicious users. It must match the targeting selected in the ad.
  3. Look for abnormal aggregations of any type of data. A well-distributed network of bots for linking is very rare. Usually they can be caught on something — source, time of day, geo, browser, behavior, social data, etc.

Anti click fraud protection in Google Ads

Examples of clicks and impressions that Google Ads considers invalid:

  • random clicks that are not valuable to the advertiser, such as second or double clicks;
  • clicks made manually to increase the advertiser’s expenses;
  • clicks made manually in order to increase the revenue of the owners of the website where the ads are placed;
  • clicks and impressions made using automated tools, robots, or other fraudulent software;
  • impressions aimed at artificially reducing the advertiser’s CTR.

Google Ads detects and filters potentially invalid clicks before they are included in the account reports. At the same time, Google takes into account a wide variety of data, including the IP address, execution time, the presence of repeated clicks, and so on.

The systems used in Google Ads, as well as the processes for detecting and filtering invalid clicks, can be divided into three types:

Preventive measures

1. Filters

Automated algorithms that filter invalid clicks in real time before the advertiser is charged for them. Analysis of all clicks on Google Ads ads. Automatic rejection of clicks and impressions made by known sources of invalid clicks. Detect the absolute majority of invalid clicks.

2. Offline analysis

Automated algorithms and manual analysis.The main focus is on the AdSense network, but the protection also applies to Google sites and other networks. Rejects far fewer invalid clicks than automatic filters.

Response measures

3. Investigations

They are held relatively infrequently. Google investigates all advertiser requests for invalid clicks and takes this very seriously. The number of invalid clicks detected by specialists is minimal compared to the number determined by filters and offline analysis.

When invalid clicks are detected, the system automatically removes them from reports so that you don’t have to pay for them. However, if necessary, you can view data about invalid clicks. Invalid impressions detected will not affect the CTR value used to calculate the keyword quality indicator.

«Click fraud» is a serious problem for advertisers. When faced with a similar scam, be sure to:

  1. Add the IP addresses and traffic sources of detected scammers to the «banned» list.
  2. Write and submit complaints to the ad network’s support service.