What is click fraud?
Meet us on the road! Check out where we'll be next! View Events ×

Get Fluent in Performance Marketing

Plain language explainers to help you keep up with the evolving digital landscape.

Click Fraud

What is click fraud? “Honesty is such a lonely word,” Billy Joel once sang. Perhaps he was talking about the prevalence of click fraud, or intentionally generating fake clicks on online advertisements. Yes, most online marketers are surely trustworthy, but the fact is, there are many bad actors in digital marketing. And by perpetuating phony click-through rates, they cause tremendous waste of marketers’ budgets and skew the results of publishers trying to attract greater ad spending.

How does click fraud work? The most common methods of click fraud come in the form of:

  • Manual clicking: This involves humans clicking on ads manually, either for money or to sabotage a competitor's campaign.
  • Automated clicking: This involves using bots or other software to click on ads automatically.
  • Click farms: These are operations that employ large numbers of people to click on ads manually.

Types of click fraud:

There are two main types of click fraud:

  • Competitive click fraud: This is when a competitor clicks on your ads in order to waste your budget.
  • Non-competitive click fraud: This is when someone clicks on your ads for their own personal gain, such as to generate revenue from a pay-per-click advertising program.

How to measure click fraud: Click fraud is hard to count accurately. But there are a number of tools and techniques that can be used to root it out. Some common click fraud detection methods include:

  • IP address filtering: This method involves blocking clicks from known click fraud IP addresses.
  • Click patterns: This method involves looking for unusual click patterns, such as a large number of clicks from the same IP address or a large number of clicks on the same ad in a short period of time.
  • Device fingerprinting: This method involves creating a unique identifier for each device that clicks on an ad. This can be used to identify devices that are clicking on ads multiple times.

Why is click fraud important to marketers?

The ad waste resulting from Click Fraud isn’t just the money that’s thrown away. It depresses the reliability and trust among buyers and sellers, ultimately holding back greater online ad spending. Essentially, the stubborn nature of Click Fraud is baked into the system, making it an unnecessary tax on the industry. On top of it, Click Fraud can skew the advertiser's results, making it difficult to determine which campaigns are effective and which are not.

Who needs to know what click fraud is:

  • Digital marketing manager
  • Paid search specialist
  • Social media manager
  • Content marketing manager
  • Affiliate manager
  • E-commerce manager
  • Product manager
  • Marketing analyst
  • Brand manager

Use click fraud in a sentence: “To avoid fake views and other forms of Click Fraud, don't just focus on how many times the ad is shown; also, consider how people actually engage with the placement, and make sure your ad partners are open about their processes.”