Clicks That Do Nothing – What Are Fake Clicks and Should You Care About It?

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One of the main goals of advertising your business online is to maximize your ad spending. This means that you should be able to reach the largest possible target audience using limited resources. Google has provided an effective way to do so through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

What is pay per click?

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an online advertising model where businesses collaborate with high-traffic websites to help promote their brand or product. The process is simple: a company hires an advertisement agency to find relevant sites with high traffic and visibility to advertise their products or services by placing an ad.  For every person that clicks on the ad, the company will pay a set fee to the website owner and the agency takes a cut.

That sounds like a great way to advertise a business!

PPC, when done right, can significantly boost business in terms of visibility, traffic, and revenue. Choosing the right website that’s related to your business means that you not only increase your reach and visibility exponentially because all of the website’s regular traffic sees your ads, but it also means that you are already connecting with a desirable demographic!

For example, if you’re selling baking tools and you choose to advertise with a popular website for baking recipes, people who are interested in baking will see your ads. They are already interested in the niche (baking) and will be more receptive to purchasing your products because they are related.

This type of hyper-selective targeting was not possible until the advent of PPC. With traditional media such as newspapers and television, you couldn’t really target your ads directly to your intended consumer base. A huge chunk of ad spending was lost because many of the people who saw traditional ads weren’t interested in the product.

PPC has changed the digital marketing game

PPC is so popular and effective that it’s actually affecting digital marketing trends. One of the biggest changes brought about by PPC is the shift from using keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) towards consumer-driven marketing. Instead of relying mainly on keywords to boost website rankings, PPC is focused on data collected from online audiences by analyzing which ads audiences are more drawn towards.

Thus crafting more efficient and targeted future advertising campaigns. PPC is also making the process of collecting data more streamlined by automating the process and adding more sources where data can be collected, as PPC can analyze clicks from social media websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.

Now, the bad news: Click fraud

As with all good things that are profitable on the Internet, scammers have figured out a way to take advantage of the PPC system: click fraud. Click fraud is one of the most pervasive problems surrounding PPC advertising, and it’s taking a huge financial toll on advertisers.

Click fraud happens when the advertising agency or the website where the ad is posted clicks on the ads repeatedly to rack up the bill. Competitors can also engage in click fraud to by clicking on their competitors’ ads in an attempt to drain their marketing budget.

There are several ways that these unscrupulous website owners and competitors can commit click fraud. It can be as simple as manually clicking on the ads themselves or as complex as getting clicker fraud malware to do the clicking automatically for them through bots. Using bots even makes it look like the clicks are the real thing since they can program malware to click randomly through the day to make it look like the clicks come from real customers.

Luckily, advertisers do have some protection available against click fraud. They can partner with reputable sites for advertising, and Google even offers click fraud insurance if they can prove that they are the victims of click fraud attacks. They can even purchase fraud protection software that tracks their ads and alerts them if there are any suspicious clicking activities going on.

Companies can also hire services that use a combination of machine learning and manual checking to detect fraudulent clicks. These services use data points such as time spent, mouse scroll pattern, geographical location, and others to detect if a click was made by a human or a bot. Once found, these clicks can then be reported to Google and the IP addresses of the scammers can be blocked from viewing the ad.

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