The Facts About Click Fraud
With every person having access to an internet connection, it has become a common practice to search for a service provider online when a procurement need arises in our interconnected world. Flyers and full-page ads in magazines have evolved into online product and service placements. It is common for businesses and organizations to pay agencies whenever their online advertisements are clicked. This mechanism, known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), can be exploited by malicious actors to impact unsuspecting advertisers negatively.
When businesses and organizations find themselves being victims of click fraud, all is not lost. By implementing AI-driven tools, organizations can combat this emerging trend. Partnering with industry specialists who can provide solutions to block fake traffic, organizations can stand their ground and protect their interests.
What Exactly is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is essentially when a threat actor simulates clicks on online advertising campaigns of a business or organization without having any sincere interest in the product or service being offered. The aim of these attacks is typically to cause damage to an organization’s marketing campaign over a longer term.
For the most part, advertisement clicks would be generated by people with actual interest in the product or service that the organization is offering. Click fraud, on the other hand, is not. It is a blatant attack against an organization by clicking on advertisements, generating false positives at scale.
How Are These Attacks Orchestrated?
There are two common ways for threat actors to orchestrate these click fraud attacks. The first is by manually clicking on the advertisement campaigns of an organization that is being targeted.
These manual clicks would originate from click farms, where many people are employed to click on the advertisements of a specific business as many times as they can. This typically takes place nonstop and around the clock, resulting in the impression that great volumes of potential customers are clicking on online Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisements. In the short term, the impact might seem negligible. Over prolonged periods, the impact can be devastating to an organization’s online marketing efforts and budget.
A second popular method of attacking an organization through click fraud is where threat actors utilize hosted applications called click bots. Threat actors develop an application with a single purpose in mind – to automate advertisement clicking. This method allows the threat actor to act alone. The disadvantage of this method is that it is pragmatically automated, which means that malicious actors can make a much worse negative impact on an organization for less personal expense than click farms.
The Impact of Click Fraud Impact
While click fraud does not technically fit the description of a data breach, the cost of such nefarious activity can be harmful to a business or organization. Organizations typically operate within operational budget constraints. Online marketing is no different. By flooding the organization’s ads with clicks that must be paid for, marketing departments might find themselves in a position where their marketing budget for PPC advertisements is rapidly depleted. This allows competitors of the organization to enter the advertisement space unchallenged.
This brings us to the next significant impact of click fraud. Most businesses rely on metrics delivered from various advertisement campaigns. These metrics are utilized to create better product and advertisement models. Those models are based on long-term trend detection. Click fraud has a distinct impact on the organization’s trend modeling since it might skew modeling, nullifying months or even years’ worth of trend data.
Addressing Click Fraud?
While many manual interventions allow businesses and organizations to detect click fraud from their server logs and analytics, many of those have found success in the implementation of automated click fraud detection solutions. These automated solutions are driven by cyber security heuristics, allowing the monitoring software to identify, flag, and act upon click fraud attacks.
Organizations that rely on Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing should be mindful of the realities of click fraud and the impact it can have on their marketing efforts, be it budget or analytics bias. By having a clear understanding of these threats, an organization can, and should, act to minimize the impact of these risks by implementing countermeasures. This threat could be addressed by implementing an AI-driven, automated solution. For more information about click fraud and how to detect and block it, visit CHEQ.AI.