Click Fraud: How to Stop Competitors From Messing With Your PPC Ads

pay per click

Pay per click marketing is arguably one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website within a short timeframe. It’s just one reason why mobile search advertising expenses were expected to reach $23.4 billion by this year. But while PPC marketing can be a great digital marketing tactic for many businesses, it’s not completely impenetrable to underhanded activity.

Even if you’ve done everything by the book with your Google PPC ads, that doesn’t mean your competitors will. And if someone is intent on derailing your marketing budget, they might be inclined to mess with your pay per click ads. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of click fraud and what can be done to protect your ad campaigns from it.

What Is Click Fraud and Why Does It Occur?

Essentially, click fraud is the act of intentionally and maliciously clicking on a PPC ad. This can be performed manually (either by a single person or a group of people) or by using technology like a computer program or automated script.

Click fraud usually happens for one of two reasons. In one scenario, a competitor of a given business will attempt to exhaust the business’s advertising budget by repeatedly clicking on their competitor’s ad with no intention of making a purchase. In another situation, an ad host or publisher might click ads displayed on their site (but that link to other businesses) in an effort to drive up their own revenue without sending legitimate traffic to the business’s site. Click fraud can also be perpetrated with the intention of harming the publisher or site owner who hosts the ads.

Regardless of the way in which click fraud occurs, the intention is to game the system, so to speak, by purposefully manipulating ad clicks for someone else’s gain. In some cases, click fraud can even cause a business to be locked out of their pay per click advertising accounts — despite the fact that their business had nothing to do with the fraud that occurred.

How Can Businesses Prevent or Stop Click Fraud?

To protect your ad spending and your business as a whole, it’s essential that you take steps to prevent or stop pay per click fraud.

Google arguably provides the best system for detecting click fraud, so it makes sense that you’d manage your ads through their platform. You’ll also need to engage in consistent PPC campaign monitoring, as reporting mechanisms can inform you as to whether you’re getting a lot of clicks from one IP address (especially if there are no timestamps showing the user took any kind of action on your site after clicking). You can also set up IP exclusions in your Google PC ad campaigns or adjust your ad targeting to ensure your ads won’t be shown to those performing fraudulent clicks in a certain area. You may want to adjust your keyword bids, as well, as something that’s too similar to a competitor’s keywords could leave you vulnerable to click fraud. There are even a number of digital tools available that can monitor whether your competitors are fraudulently clicking on your ads. And, of course, it’s best to work with PPC professionals to create and monitor your ad campaigns so you don’t miss any signs of potential fraud.

Ultimately, anyone who runs pay per click ads can become a victim of click fraud. But if you know what to look for and how to protect yourself, you’ll have a much better chance of running a successful ad campaign. For more on our PPC management services, please contact Studio98 today.

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