Click Fraud – Measuring the intent of a click

Joshua Erdman

Click FraudWhat is the cost of a click?  It takes no effort for your finger to press that little button on your mouse, but it is what you click on where the dollars add up. For example, a single click on an ad could cost a plumber as much as $20.  Depending on the location, amount of competition and industry the Cost Per Click (CPC) in the world of digital marketing can skyrocket.  It is not uncommon to see the CPC for bail-bondsmen or personal injury lawyers exceed several hundred dollars!  With a simple click of the mouse a new customer (or competitor) can spend your advertising dollars filling Google’s wallet.

Since clicking is so easy, what keeps a competitor from depleting your Digital Marketing budget from their fraudulent clicks?  With so much money at stake, click fraud is certainly real and Google claims to protect you, reporting and refunding you on these ‘invalid clicks’ as they call them.  But to Google, what does a fraudulent click look like and how can they tell the difference? It is easy to conclude that a ‘doubleclick’ should result in one invalid click on the 2nd click.  But what about 2 clicks on the same day? Or over the same week?  How should a click be considered when they are from the same computer but from different internet providers?  We can come up both legitimate and malicious situations for all these scenarios.  Certainly Google has some algorithmic way to detect and prevent click fraud to maintain a good reputation; after-all they generated over $95 billion in ad sales in 2017 – plenty of motivation to stay on good terms with their advertisers.

Serialized Data in WordPress

How do you measure intent?

Since you cannot detect intent on the other side of the mouse, preventing click fraud becomes an almost impossible task.  Some 3rd party companies claim to have the ability to prevent click fraud.  They provide website plug-ins and a connection to your AdWords account via an API.  Do they know something that Google doesn’t?  And if a third party click-fraud company is doing a good job, how should this be measured?  When it comes to click-fraud there are certainly more questions than answers.

We wrote on the subject almost ten years ago and although prevention can be difficult (and sometimes impossible) our experience allows us to assess if you are a target of click fraud.  From years of PPC management we have a suite of creative solutions that will continue to bring you business without paying for the amusement of your competitors.