By Ryan Kh

AdWords opened its doors in 2000. Pay-per-click advertising has been the most popular form of digital marketing ever since. It is easy to see the appeal – PPC traffic is highly targeted and advertisers don’t have to worry about banner blindness wrecking their ROI.

Unfortunately, PPC Advertising still has risks of its own. The biggest concern is click fraud.

What is click fraud?

Many PPC networks broker traffic for third-party publishers. The networks charge a fee to the advertiser and pay the publisher a portion in return.

These partnerships usually work to everybody’s advantage. The advertiser can purchase more traffic than they would if they only bought from the Network themselves. The network can scale their business. The publisher has access to a deep pool of advertisers that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.

There is a risk though. Unscrupulous publishers often purposefully click the ads on their site to get paid for traffic they did not earn. This is known as click fraud.

Click fraud is a very serious problem. Google and other major publishers have found innovative ways to combat it over the years, but plenty of publishers still find ways to circumvent their safeguards. Smaller ad networks are even less adept at fighting it. According to a recent report, click fraud will cost advertisers over $16 billion in 2017.

How can advertisers fight click fraud?

Identifying and fighting click fraud can seem overwhelming to inexperienced advertisers. Fortunately, it will be much easier if you follow these steps.

Use Third-Party Click Fraud Controls

Yuval Haimov, the founder of Clickcease, states that advertisers need to be aware of the risks and implement quality controls of their own, because even distinguish networks such as AdSense can’t detect a fraudulent traffic on their own. He developed Clickcease to give advertisers greater control by detecting click farms and other sophisticated click fraud operations.

Here are some ways that Clickcease protects your CPC campaigns:

  • Allowing you to automate blocking of fraudulent IP addresses
  • Receiving real-time notifications about possible fraudulent clicks
  • Allowing you to setup customizable detection rules
  • Making it possible to immediately hide ads that get lots of suspicious clicks
  • Detecting clicks served from proxy IP addresses
  • Identifying publishers with suspicious hosting providers

All of these controls that Clickcease offers can significantly reduce the costs of click fraud.

Look beyond IP addresses

Tracking visitor IP addresses is key to finding click fraud. However, IP addresses alone won’t always help you identify fraudulent traffic.

You also need to monitor time stamps, user agent and action agent variables as well. Timestamps will tell you how far apart click events were registered. If you got three clicks from a given IP address over the course of two weeks, then it is probable that a regular user saw your ad and collect multiple times. On the other hand, if you received multiple clicks in a short period of time, it is likely that a bot caused the events.

Action agents tell you whether or not a user is converting. If your average conversion rate is 10%, then you should be concerned if you received 20 clicks from an IP address without a conversion.

Compare IP addresses against your competitors

Your competitors may click your ads to drive up your advertising budget. Try to identify your competitor IP addresses and see if they match those if your referring visitors. One or two clicks isn’t a big deal, because it probably means they are doing basic competitive research on you. If you are getting dozens of clicks from your competitors, then you need to report them to the advertiser network.

Exclude poor performing IP addresses

If you discover that an IP address is it driving any conversions after multiple clicks, then you should generally exclude them from your campaign. Even if it isn’t worth paying for traffic that doesn’t convert.

Create remarketing campaigns

Remarketing campaigns are an innovative and highly effective way of fighting click fraud. Your visitors will only see your ads if they have previously engaged with your website. This means that if you didn’t include a remarketing pixel in any of your previous ads, fraudulent publishers won’t see your ads at all!

Of course, this won’t help you reach newer customers, but it can be a great way to engage and convert previous visitors while eliminating click fraud.

Ryan Kh is an experienced blogger, digital content & social marketer. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter: @ryankhgb.