shield ppc fraud guardIf you are using Pay-Per-Click ads like Google ads to market your website, you need to protect yourself from click fraud. If you’re a victim of click fraud, not only will it eat up your advertising budget, but it will also prevent potential customers from reaching your site.

Let’s say you’ve up a PPC campaign with several ads for your pet training website that show up in Google when people search for your chosen keywords. The ads are pay-per-lick, and you’ve set a daily budget of $100. Google will keep track of how many clicks you have had and stops displaying them when you hit your limit. (Depending on how much a click costs you, this could be early or later in the day.)

Now your competitor, also a dog trainer, wants your ad campaign to fail and his his succeed to grab all the traffic. He hires some people to search for your keywords over and over and click your ads each time they come up. None of these are potential customers, of course, but their clicks add up. Within a short time, your daily budget is exhausted, and now your ads will stop being displayed.

The search engines want to protect their advertisers from click fraud, so they examine clicks and credit back the invalid ones to the advertiser’s account. They have lots of filters to detect invalid activity — they look for patterns such as many clicks coming from the same IP address, repetitive or duplicate clicking, and the time of the clicks. Because they’ve been pretty successful monitoring and detecting click fraud, it’s far less of a problem today than it was in the past. However, the problem now is that even though the search engines will credit back the money into your account, you’re still missing an opportunity for sales that you could have had.

All of the major search engines enable you to get reports on your PPC ads’ effectiveness. You tag your pages with code provided by the search engine, and track everyone who comes to your site through a PPC ad — from clicking the ad to landing on your site and all the way to exiting. This detail gives you a way to analyze clicks on your ads. You can watch for click fraud using these analytics, too.
Here are warning signs to look for that may indicate you’re the victim of click fraud:
• Unusual peaks in impressions (number of times your ad shows on a search results page)
• Unusual peaks in the number of clicks
• No increase in the number of conversions during peaks in impressions or clicks
• Drop in the number of page views (how many pages were visited per visitor) during peaks in impressions or clicks
• Higher bounce rate (number of people clicking your ad and then quickly going back to the search results page) during peaks in impressions or clicks

When you detect a pattern that may indicate click fraud, you should report it to the search engine running your PPC ads. It’s possible that they’ve already identified the same behavior and credited your account for those clicks. If they haven’t already caught it as fraud, and credited your account, you can ensure it’s taken care of. Having said that, the search engines will not pick up all instances of fraud.

Adweek reports 46% of ad spend is suspicious. In our own client Adwords accounts, Google themselves identify 10.5% of clicks as “invalid” and potentially fraudulent. Unfortunately Google, don’t identify low level fraud where your competitors are clicking on your ads each day from their office

To stop them – you need to find them. Only we can. Our unique competitor detection technology allows us to find and stop your competitors faster than any other system. What’s more as soon as we find them we block them from within your Adwords account so you don’t have to do anything. For more information on our ‘Shield’ fraud protection service, click here: Shield