What is Click Fraud and Bot Fraud? How Do They Affect Websites?
PPC is one of the most popular and best ways to advertise and promote your brand. But with every good and easy thing comes attached drawbacks. Click fraud is a great fear for all marketers and PPC experts.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is a false way of increasing the number of clicks on a PPC ad. It is usually done for two purposes-
- To exploit the competitor’s revenue by clicking on his/her website link. This gives the impression of getting huge traffic which leads to depletion of all the resources of the competitor’s company.
- To generate a large number of traffic on the website. The brand owner itself produces massive number of illegal clicks.
Who can do this to a company?
- The Competitors- Many times to deplete the other company’s revenue its competitor generates fake clicks to give the impression of number of clicks being generated on the website. This leads to the original company getting tricked into depleting all its resources to generate products for a non-existent audience.
- Site Owners- The company owners can themselves also be the reason for their company’s involvement in click fraud. Many times site owners themselves generate fake clicks to give their website heavy traffic.
- Customers- A number of times it happens that unknowingly the customer himself generates a large number of likes, which are not authentic. Those also come under click fraud.
How does it affect company?
- When a competitor does it.
When a particular competitor of the company gets involved in click fraud to degrade its fellow competitor’s value and to exploit its revenue, it leaves the brand with a shrunken wallet. The original brand gets tricked into spending all its money on fake clicks that have been illegally produced and will not lead to any conversion.
- When the company itself does it.
When the company itself gets involved in generating fake clicks, it does get successful in getting traffic to the website but those clicks do not yield any conversions. Apart from this, if the scam comes out in public, it also leads to the company’s image getting spoiled just for a small increase in traffic.
- When the customer does it.
In cases when click fraud happens due to the customer’s fault, it could lead to the company getting false information about requirement of products which may end up in the company utilising a large amount of its resources in manufacturing products which were not needed in the first place.
Click fraud has many times led to companies becoming victims of click fraud on the web. In today’s world when PPC is an important way of promoting your brand, the brand owners need to be careful about promoting the brand on the web. With click fraud becoming a persistent menace, brands need to stay careful of not just the competitors but also their own self and the customers.
Because you never know from which direction the fraud may attack!
Internet is becoming an important way of marketing and promoting your brand. With this, there is an increased risk of malicious bots finding a way to your website and getting on with their dirty work.
What are Bots?
Firstly let’s understand the term- ‘Bots’. Bots is the abbreviated term for ‘web robots’, the web crawlers which are present on the internet for both good and bad intent. These bots are software and applications which do automated tasks on the web. The Google web-crawlers could be one of the good bots present on the web which fetch and analyze information to provide it to the searcher.
Malicious bots are the bad bots and are quite difficult to catch and recognise because they disguise themselves amongst the elements on the web.
How do bots work?
Malicious bots work along with a bot master to visit sites and generate illegal clicks and visits to websites. They give the website owner the impression of real human traffic visiting their website. In short, malicious bots pretend to be humans visiting a webpage. The bots get involved in click fraud by generating fake clicks on their own or the competitor’s websites.
Types of Bots
The two main types of bots that exist on the internet are-
- Malware bot- Malicious bots work along with a bot master to visit sites and generate illegal clicks and visits to websites. They generally work to-
- Get emails, addresses and other personal information.
- Send out viruses and other forms of malware elements.
- Make your webpage vulnerable to Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS).
- Turn computers into zombie systems.
- Ad-fraud bot-Ad bots work towards targeting advertisements and generating fake traffic and views on it. This lead to the advertiser losing a large amount of investment that it had done on the advertisements due to the fake clicks. Ad fraud works in ways to mimic the human action the web and lead the website owner to believe that his website is receiving genuine traffic. Apart from this, some sophisticated ad fraud bots also follow algorithms to generate views and clicks on websites.
Solution to the Problem of Bots
The problem of bots is not a system getting infected with it, but if a system has botnets working in disguise then it is capable of transferring the malware to other neighbouring systems. Companies have been working to solve this issue for a long time and have come up with the following solutions-
- Filtering out the fake clicks and views using detection software.
- Identifying fake traffic and click fraud.
- Detecting suspicious and illegal behaviours
With further awareness being spread about click fraud and the issues that bots pose to the online marketing scenario, more professionals need to come forwards to tackle the issue and help the system administrators to permanently keep it away. This would not only make the web a safe place to advertise but will also lead to advertisers saving a lot of revenue which goes to waste due to the fake traffics.