Last year, the ad verification company Adloox predicted ad fraud could cost advertisers $16.4 billion in 2017—or about 20.5 percent of total global digital ad spend. – from a March 4, 2018 Adweek Article
But what can a small business, who’s already sweating the monthly click budget, do about protecting itself against click fraud? The answer depends of course on how much your company spends on pay per click advertising. And while 100% legitimate clicks is not realistic, there are some basic strategies small business can use to monitor for fraudulent clicks.
- Run Your Own Server. This gives you access to your data in ways the Google Analytics can’t give you, namely the intimate details of your paid clicks, namely IP Address, timestamp, actions, and basic user info like device, browser, etc. IP addresses that click time and time again and bounce or otherwise not convert, then it’s time to take action. But that requires human invervention to some degree to view these reports, which leads us to
- Human monitoring. Even a few minutes a day reviewing daily logs, Adwords reports, etc, can turn up evidence (or not) or click fraud in your PPC campaigns. And while its unrealistic to assume this monitoring can happen every business day, you can get a better handle on your clicks with say a week of intense monitioring (auditing) where staff reviews clicks daily side by side with internally generated visitor logs from your server.
- Set up multiple Conversions and Smart Goals within Google Analytics. Arm yourself with the best reporting possible with Google Analytics by setting up common conversions goals such as ‘time on site’ and ‘pages per visit’ to get a good sense of whether keywords are producing legititmate clicks or not.
- Set up Alerts. On Statcounter for example, when suspicious IP addresses that you have identified return to your site, you can get an alert message sent to you. Additionally, you can set up alerts for other common click fraud behavior.
Click fraud is a real and continuing issue to all small businesses who use PPC as a lead generator. And while the typical small business IT budget can’t support much in the way of additional monitoring costs, small businesses who run their own VPN typically have much better tools at their disposal to monitor and combat.