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Click Fraud Decoded

If you are a digital advertiser, chances are you have been stung by click fraud many times. But there are ways to identify and prevent it. Let us today discuss in detail about what is click fraud, different types of click frauds and how can they be prevented.

What is Click Fraud?

In general terms Click Fraud is associated with PPC fraud, where bots end up clicking on your campaign and exhaust your marketing budget. This results in a lot of fake clicks and visits to your website and is generally associated with bad performance. However, this is true for PPC/CPC based traffic. In case of performance marketing (where the advertiser pays on an end-goal like sale/lead etc) Click Fraud takes another color. Now, the normal approach to Click fraud won’t work, since the publisher will not get paid for all the fake clicks (since there is no performance). So in performance campaigns, Click Fraud gets changed to stealing Organic traffic (which has the best performance in general for any advertiser).

When clicks are dropped randomly to steal Organic traffic is called Click fraud. It is basically used in the scenario of “Last click attribution models” and is meant to make the fake click as the “last” click prior to the conversion to effectively steal it. Since Organic traffic does NOT have any click, the fake click ends up winning and thus the publisher ends up getting attributed to the performance generated out of this. It can occur in both the app and the web.

In App campaigns, it is done to steal credit for an install or a re-engagement event.

In Web campaigns, it is done to steal credit for a lead/sale by using Cookie-stuffing / Click injections.

Types of Click Fraud

As many consumers are moving online for their purchases, advertisers have increased their ad budget spending to target any new potential customer. Due to this reason, many PPC fraudsters are upping their game. They use different techniques of click fraud to steal the advertiser’s ad spend. These frauds are mentioned as below:

Click Spam: Click spam is the most common SIVT (sophisticated Invalid traffic) method used to spoof the performance. In this type of fraud, a random click is fired to capture the organic sale and the click to sale time difference is more.

Recently, a leading health and pharma app company was facing the issue of fake installs, mFilterIt was assigned the task of fraud analysis for unearthly mysteries of performance spent drain. After the analysis, the company found out that Click Spam and Non-Play Store ad-fraud for acquisition of new users was contributing more than half of the total fake installs. This shows that even the best of the digitally evolved organisations experience ad-fraud.

Click Injection: In this type of fraud, click is injected where a malicious publisher (apps) on phone notices that “ABC app” is used by the customer, and fires a click in the background. This way, as the user is browsing on “ABC app”, the click has been sent and order captured. Hence, the attributes are manipulated, and payment is done to the wrong media source instead of the deserving source.

The apps that users generally don’t use on their phone constitutes the junk apps. These apps can be fraudulently used by fraudsters to generate click on the user’s device and steal credit for an inorganic install. This method has severe implication on advertiser’s ad spend.

Automated clicks using BOTs: Fraudsters have created a sophisticated click fraud system using BOTs. They use fake IP addresses to avoid traceability. This type of fraud is often targeted through data stored in cookies on web. BOTs browse histories, demographic information and past purchases before targeting a certain ad. This impacts the advertiser as they lose on their money by paying for fake visits instead of genuine customer visits.

How Can I prevent click fraud?

It is important for advertisers to be aware of various click fraud warning signs. These warnings are usually as follows:

  • Extremely low conversion rates (click to conversion rates).
  • High bounce rate (in case of cookie stuffing, publishers will try to open the advertiser website in an hidden iframe to get the cookie dropped resulting in high bounce rates)
  • Reduction in organic traffic when inorganic sources are scaled up.

mFilterIt offers sophisticated technologies that helps advertisers detect click fraud in real-time. The advanced algorithm helps to identify abnormalities in the click data. Click here for a free trial!