Google defines evil as “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity.” Go ahead, Google it. That’s what it says.
Now maybe calling click fraud evil is a bit of a stretch. But it’s definitely awful for budget-conscious marketers.
In short, click fraud is a system in which most of your PPC clicks are fake, generated by ingenuine sources, just to make you pay more money to the advertiser.
I mean, that’s pretty immoral, some may even consider it wicked.
I know you want a little more explanation before embarking on your own online advertising campaign. Let’s start with a fun hypothetical.
A Quick Scenario
Kim Kardashian wants to buy ads to promote her television show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians (Now come on, who did you think would star in my hypothetical?). She is already advertising on many platforms, but has never created a PPC ad campaign before.
She has literally no clue what she’s doing, but she’s so stubborn. You know Kim. She tries to do it all herself because she doesn’t want to admit that she doesn’t know how. (Okay, Kim would 100% pay someone else to do it, but just pretend for this example).
Kris Jenner, Kim’s momager (mom/manager), won’t let Kim spend too much money on an advertising campaign, because Kris is skimpy with her advertising allowances. So Kim decides to advertise with a tier 2 advertising network. They offer cheaper prices per click on her ad. Great!
Kim plans a PPC campaign with a random tier 2 search engine. She really has no clue what’s going on.
After 10,000 clicks, Kim realizes that the viewer count for her show has only went up by 10. Uh oh. Her mom Kris takes a look and sees that the majority of the clicks only view her ad for 0.01 seconds, and they come from sketchy sources. 30% of these clicks even came from the same IP address.
Looks like Kim Kardashian is victim to click fraud (dun dun dun).
Well, whomever Kim bought ad space from probably got bots or random people to spam clicks on her ad, driving her clicks, making her pay more to the advertiser.
But these clicks won’t convert to viewers on her show. Ever. They’re there solely to make Kim’s click count go up and take more money from Kim.
This is why click fraud is so awful to marketers. You’re being forced to pay more per legitimate click than you normally would. You’re paying for dead leads, people who are not interested in your ad, and are just taking money from you.
What Do We Do About It?
Well, you just have to be careful. Kim just jumped into a random advertising network because she just couldn’t even fathom what was happening. She “just couldn’t even.”
Lucky for us, we’re smarter than Kim. We know that you have to look into where you advertise before you actually hand over money.
The larger search engines offer very comprehensive click fraud protection. Google and Bing have very complex systems in place to eliminate click fraud, so you have almost no worry with them. If click fraud happens on your Google or Bing PPC campaign, you won’t get charged for those clicks.
Click fraud is more prominent with tier 2 advertising networks. Many of the top performers still offer top notch click fraud protection. eZanga is a tier 2 network, and we offer Traffic Advisers 7 to stop click fraud. You can see more on that here and here. Ask.com and Aol.com are other tier 2 networks that have great click fraud protection.
But not all tier 2 networks offer this. Some of them have very little to no protection for click fraud. If you fail to look at reviews of their service, your campaign may be riddled with this unnecessary evil.
What Can You Do?
Be sure to research before you execute. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Look at reviews, reports, websites that recommend advertising networks. Be an educated customer, and don’t jump into a random advertiser’s lap, because negative things may happen.
Like click fraud, which is basically the Regina George of PPC advertising, stealing all your friends and plaguing the internet.