Ad spend losses from click fraud might reach $68 billion worldwide in 2022, a recent Juniper Research study predicts.
Ad spend losses from click fraud might reach $68 billion worldwide in 2022, a recent Juniper Research study predicts. With those kinds of numbers, says Heavyweight Digital co-founder and managing director Roy Dovaston, click fraud is ‘highly likely to affect most UK businesses in the near future’. To stop click fraud in its tracks, Heavyweight Digital has added Microsoft Ads functionality to its click fraud-blocking system.
This functionality is especially critical for UK businesses, Dovaston points out. Although US losses look to top the affected countries, UK losses will likely land in the top five. He adds, ‘For that reason, it’s a prudent move for UK advertisers to harden their pay-per-click advertising against click fraudsters proactively. That’s why we added the Microsoft functionality and are working feverishly on a Facebook Ads one’.
Click fraud occurs when cybercriminals inflate the traffic for digital ads, such as those that land atop search results or pop up while people search for information about the products and services that advertisers offer. Most click fraud perpetrators use bots – programs that automate the click-through process – to ‘create the illusion that a large number of potential customers are clicking on the advertiser’s links’, as TechTarget’s Alexander Gillis points out.
Various motives spur criminals to commit click fraud, Dovaston says. If they own a website that deposits malware on visitors’ computers, the fraudsters might use an automated click program to boost the site’s traffic, thereby landing it higher in search results. The higher in the search results a site is, the more likely people will click on it.
Some unscrupulous businesses and other organisations use click fraud to exhaust their competitors’ ad budget, taking their competitors’ ads out of the search results. With their competitors’ ads out of the way, prospects will be more likely to see their ads, not their competitors’ offerings. Likewise, dissatisfied customers or other troublemakers sometimes take out their anger on a company by running up their click tally, draining the company’s budget.
Other criminals buy up ad hosting websites and use click fraud to increase their revenue without delivering results for their clients, who hope their ads will bring the buying public their way. As they see their traffic increase, their clients buy more ads – until they realise they’re not getting their money’s worth. Unfortunately, as Dovaston warns, there are plenty of unsuspecting businesses out there that aren’t internet savvy enough to figure out that their traffic isn’t genuine until it’s too late.
A few years ago, click fraud victims, advertising networks, and law enforcement personnel could often identify click fraudsters by their IP address. Today, however, many click fraud perpetrators often use VPNs or a broad network of computers in varied regions to hide their activity.
With the explosion of technologies fraudsters can use to evade detection, what can businesses do to detect and prevent possible click fraud? Dovaston advises businesses to look for several signs. ‘If you notice more than average clicks from a single internet service provider, a flurry of impressions with few page views, or lots of click-throughs without many conversions, you should suspect click fraud’, he says.
He continues, ‘Businesses need to protect their ads from click fraud vulnerabilities by partnering with an internet security partner that specialises in advertising security’. Tech entrepreneur David Finkelstein agrees, suggesting that businesses consider ad fraud prevention a necessary part of their overall marketing budget.
Ideally, Dovaston advises, businesses should look for a leading-edge ad security solution that they can customise to their exact needs. Having a solution that can identify and stop threats around the clock is also critical to stop the ad spend bleed, he adds. He concludes, ‘Ignoring click fraud isn’t an option for businesses in today’s high-tech world. Having a click fraud prevention solution with multiple ad functionalities should keep their marketing budget laser-focused on attracting and retaining customers, as it should be’.
Founded in 2015 as a solution for its clients’ click fraud challenges, Heavyweight Digital (https://heavyweightdigital.co.uk/) has since branched out into a full-service digital marketing agency. It provides Google Ads and Microsoft Ads management as well as SEO services and social media management. Its flagship app, Click Guardian, delivers leading-edge click fraud protection for digital advertisers.