You’ve probably heard advertisers talk about Google ads fraud or simply click fraud. You could have even been a victim of this fraud. But, what is Google ads fraud?
Click fraud can be defined as a form of cheating that occurs online in pay-per-click internet advertising. Pay-per-click advertising entails posting ads for which website owners pay a certain amount of money that is determined by the number of people that click on those ads and visit their sites.
Ads fraud occurs when an automated script, a computer program, or a person imitates a legit web browser user and clicks on an ad without the actual interest in what the ad’s link targets. This form of fraud has been the subject of increasing litigation and controversy with advertising networks benefiting from it.
How Does Google Ads Fraud Occur?
Google ads fraud is simply a tactic where users, both bots and humans, click on ads repeatedly to achieve illegitimate results for the ad or publisher. Even the advertiser can click their ad repeatedly with the same intent.
Somebody can also be sitting in front of a computer and mindlessly click a single Google ad repeatedly. A virus or computer program can be used to perform the same act. At its basic level, Google Ads fraud is about the click’s intent. And, this is where this concept gets hazy. How can you determine a click’s intent to ascertain that a person has committed a Google ads fraud? And for what reason can somebody do that?
Why Does Google Click Fraud Occur?
It’s almost impossible to answer the question, what is Google Ads fraud, without knowing how Google Ads work. Google ads appear in search results because advertisers pay for the phrases or words that internet users type in the search engine box. If a company’s ad is clicked on by the user, Google charges it for that click. It’s a cost-per-click system with some clicks costing advertisers more money than others.
The publisher of these ads can be other websites or Google. Google, its advertisers, as well as second- and third-tier publishers form Google’s advertising network. However, Google pays these websites when internet users click on the ads that appear on them. This now explains why a person may commit a Google Ads fraud. There are generally two major types of Google Ads fraud.
Network Click Fraud
The idea of committing a Google Ads fraud is to increase the money earned by a network fraudulently. Generation of false clicks on a Google ad by a partner publisher can earn them more money than relying solely on real people clicks. Perhaps, you might be thinking that Google would also profit from these clicks because advertisers will pay for the fraudulent clicks.
Unfortunately, this is not true. Click fraud degrades the overall quality of Google’s advertising network. That’s because any advertising network’s value depends on the ability to generate real and productive ad clicks and views. A network is of lower quality if it gets more clicks without corresponding sales or inquiries.
Competitor Click Fraud
This is a more malicious type of Google Ads fraud. It’s usually targeted at the ads of a specific company. The main reason for committing this Google click fraud is to generate false clicks and raise the Google marketing cost of a company. Since Google Ads are simply a form of cost-per-click marketing, generating more false clicks will deplete the marketing budget of a company.
This form of Google Ads fraud can mean the end of the advertising ability of a small business. And, if the competitor succeeds in their scheme, they win by appearing more prominently in Google search results pages.
How to Detect and Prevent Google Ads Fraud
Now that we have answered the question, what is Google Ads fraud, you may want to know how to detect and prevent it. Detecting a Google click fraud is sometimes obvious. For instance, if your advertising bill from Google goes up significantly without a corresponding surge in sales, you could be facing a click fraud. However, there are times when detecting Google Ads fraud becomes subtle.
Nevertheless, some companies specialize in detecting Google Ads fraud. These can track your ad clicks to find out if fraud has occurred. You can also check for sudden changes in overall performance data, analyze timestamps, and IP addresses.
There are many ways to prevent Google ads fraud. They include avoiding fraudulent IPs in your ads, excluding locations, and avoiding placements in low-quality sites. There are also third-party software, plug-ins, and services that can help in the reduction of click fraud.
The Bottom Line
Google ads fraud is real. You’ve probably heard an online ad fraud case involving a prominent company. Your company or business could have even been a victim of this fraud. To avoid this fraud, pay attention to your Google advertising bill or use Google ad fraud protection services and tools.