Understanding Click Fraud in 2020As 2020 slowly settles in, we can review the trends that shaped digital ad fraud in 2019 and look ahead to determine what awaits us in the near future. Glancing back at 2019 trends seems that one of the most significant and relevant buzzwords affecting our marketing pending budget: click fraud.
In order to understand PPC click fraud let’s first understand what PPC advertising means and what it means for our brand. PPC literally means Pay Per Click advertising, a popular model of online advertising. Compared to traditional methods of advertising that aim to the general crowd through physical billboards or TV commercials, online advertising has brought opportunities to advertise directly to consumers based on their interest, location, former online interactions and more, even for businesses with significantly small marketing budgets.
In different cycles of online advertising, we have encountered online banners, pop-ups, and e-mail ads but none was quite precise as the PPC options made available for businesses of all sizes and industry. PPC is used throughout Google ads and Bing ads, allowing companies to be flexible with their spending and not commit to a monthly fixed price. When used correctly and fraud-free, PPC allows the best ROI for all size businesses – measuring relevant clicks and traffic to your site based on keywords matching your business.
The problem started when bots, scripts and “Click Farms” found a way to drive the money paid for those clicks in order to drain marketing budgets by generating fraudulent charges for business owners, hiking up advertising costs. You can have supposedly successful campaign numbers while conversion rates are low, but you’ll have no way to detect fraud is being performed without using an external monitoring and detection software that blocks scamming IPS and fraudulent software. No one is safe when it comes to PPC click fraud.
That’s where we come in, to make sure any click, action or engagement on your google & Bing ads campaigns are honest, detectable and of course truthful – a combination that will lead you to real data that you can convert into real results.
Fraudsters will continue to grow, on your expenseBusinesses suffer constantly from an overflow of “Click farms”, bots and scripts activity. Those fraudulent elements create “fake revenues” by allowing invalid, fraudulent clicks that basically present a false image of what’s actually happening within your brand as well as charging you with costs that do not lead to your business converting sales or results. It’s taking money out of the business owner’s pocket while creating false, almost-impossible-to-detect wrongful clicks.
The problem we attack is the actual reality of the brand performance vs the reality that click fraudsters portray. In all truths, no one is out of the danger zone – small companies and huge organizations are both affected by fake click and engagement numbers that have no hold and no connection to the brand’s actual state. 2020 is no different in terms of escalation of fraudsters attempting to use up as much as possible from marketing budgets by delivering invalid results derived from invalid click performance, chasing away successful brand-consumer relationships.
It’s just getting worse: Ad fraud innovation is on the riseAs time goes by, fraudsters are getting better and more sophisticated. Digital ad fraudsters are constantly on the move, finding their way through bots, software and criminal hacking methods and into Google Ads and Bing Ads. Scammers are relentless in terms of becoming more effective at click theft while staying under the radar.
We saw a significant rise in the 2019 ad fraud rate, even among trusted sources like google: From 10% at the beginning of the year to almost 40% fraud rate (!) at the end of 2019 and still going up. Numbers are different depending on the industry & keyword competition, but the stats are speaking loud and clear, millions of dollars are being spent on fraudulent clicks. With no action being taken, your company is subjected to increased fraud activity in 2020.
We combat smart bots with smarter technologiesKnowledge is key. Looking forward, utilizing intelligent technologies and obtaining relevant knowledge will help you understand the enemy and combat it accordingly.
What are the leading ad fraud trends we will face in 2020?
- Mobile ad fraud is getting more refined: Mobile ads are becoming more vulnerable – fraudsters can now determine an entire set of fake measurement tools at once – fake impressions, clicks, conversions and more, instead of treating them as an individual step to create deception.
- Mobile click fraud through flight mode: The basic mobile tools are serving as a fresh ground for fraud growth – with turning flight mode on and off, fraudsters are able to create new IP’s to attack from, easily.
- E-commerce is becoming more of a target: We will see the number of emulations increasing for consumers using the PPC model – Pay Per Click as well as the CPA model – Pay Per Action.
- Call extensions and Call-Only ads are exploited without IP tracking options: Fraudsters are always thinking of new, improved ways to generate scams. Using call now and call extension ads are a new frontier for fraud due to their vulnerability – no IPs can be tracked, leading to the inability to detect the path of the fraud and stop it.
- The evolvement of veteran technologies: Click injections, click farms and smart bots are all steadily becoming more innovative. Fraudsters are working hard to stay undetected and perform fraud freely. We can see an example through click farms that are connecting large numbers of devices with different IPs over VPNs as well as reverse engineering targeted to beat anti-fraud tools.
- Bots are approaching near-human capabilities: New methods are being used to create fraud through bots. For example, Bots are creating clicks in an earlier stage than the detection software can aim for and therefore fail to detect as well as automated bots connecting to proxies directly in order to perform automatic Google searches and clicks.
- Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) are left open while IP is switched and ads are being clicked with new incognito tab: Fraudsters are using the tools given by browsers and basic PC environments as well as simple VPN apps to create more locations and placements to perform click fraud.