Most advertisers are aware of the click-fraud issue but have not investigated further because of the technical complexities involved. Others are concerned that complaining too loudly will affect their relationships with the powerful search networks.
So what should you do if you think this is happening to you?
Well the good news is that the major search engines take this type of fraud very seriously, and they aggressively police their network to stop this happening. If they find any fraudulent clicks your account should be automatically credited back. However, no system is 100% foolproof and sometimes click fraudsters do get through this screening process.
What to Look For:
- Keep an eye on whether there have been any sudden spikes in click volume with little or no change in conversions.
- An increase in paid ads being clicked on by overseas IP addresses could be a sign of targeted click fraud.
- It doesn’t just have to be overseas IP addresses, keep an eye on any domestic IPs repeatedly clicking on your ads.
- Duplicate clicks from the same IP address could be genuine, especially if you see that these clicks all happened during the same session. Many companies use the same IP address for all their users, so if a company is researching you then this is genuine. Be wary of competitive click fraud though, if you see the same IP address clicking your ads across different sessions and at different times of the day then investigate further.
- If you are using more than one search engine to post your ads, look for a sudden increase in clicks on a specific phrase or keyword across all your accounts (especially if you are using a contextual network). If one account is showing a spike but the other isn’t, then this is a sure sign of fraud.
If you have checked your stats and you suspect click fraud, the first thing you should do is contact your search provider. They will be able to investigate further, and if there has been fraud, they will spot it.
You could also consider turning off your ad network while you investigate further. This is a sure-fire way to stop click fraud, but you will obviously not be generating any sales from these ads!