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Click Spam: Too many clicks to spoil your inventory

Posted by Huzefa Hakim | March 1, 2023

Click Spam: Too many clicks to spoil your inventory

Receiving an unusually high number of clicks on your campaign? Don’t celebrate early. You could be a victim of click spam fraud.

While a PPC campaign has various advantages in terms of improving page rankings and conversions, it’s also a fact that 1000s of clicks can easily be bought online for as little as $5. The alarming problem of click farms employed by fraudsters to impersonate genuine visitors is one of the major sources of revenue for the same.

Moreover, click frauds are usually seen in the case of in-mobile app advertisements which only make things worse; given the fact that programmatic audio ads and shopping app advertisements are the future trends to be focused on.

Let’s understand what is so serious about click fraud and how it leeches a campaign budget.

What is click spam?

Click spam is a form of fraud where a mobile app or any website is used by fraudulent parties to generate non-human clicks disguised as genuine impressions.

This activity is performed by non-human traffic known as bot traffic. The process originates with a genuine user downloading an infected app or visiting an infected web page. These infected assets have a malware code built within to generate clicks on ads. In a nutshell, a user while surfing through the web or normally scrolling through an app might be unaware of a click spam undertaking in the background.

In the programmatic ecosystem, click spams are common to publishers as well. These may happen unintentionally or could be originated by competitors to get a publisher’s Google AdX account suspended.

Serious enough, right? Let’s look at what are the types of click spam you must beware of as a publisher.

Types of click spam

1. Manual Spam Clicks

As the name suggests, these originate by generating humane clicks on ads by real people clicking the same. Manual Spam clicks are easily detectable but challenging to prove as spam as quite often they might also be mistaken as an accidental click. These are of three types:

2. Competitor Spam Clicks

In such cases, your ads might be manually clicked by competitors by employing a network of people especially dedicated to performing such clicks at different points in time. While each click is a paid one, zero conversions from such fraudulent clicks would alert Google’s algorithm quickly about invalid traffic on your inventory. Consequently, Google might take harsh actions to the extent of banning your Ad sense account.

3. Affiliates Spam Clicks

Affiliates are established sites matched with advertisers based on shared interests and other criteria. These are used by services like Google AdSense to display a text or a banner ad from matched advertisers. Any visitor clicking on such ads would generate revenue for the affiliate displaying such ads on their sites. However, the issue arises when such clicks are made by the affiliates themselves. Either way, the affiliates earn while you suffer.

4. Accidental Spam Clicks

An act as trivial as refreshing your site’s ad by yourself or by any of those within your network may also generate a worthless click which leads to corrupting the marketing data of your customers as well as exhausting the campaign budget.

5. Automated Spam Clicks

Bots and Click Farms are the most common forms of automated spam clicks. In the case of bots, they are employed by fraudsters to mimic human behavior including clicking on ads repeatedly at different points in time. The best sign of detecting bot traffic is spotting impressions with zero conversions. 

In click farms, a selected number of individuals are provided access to 100s of devices in order to inflate the number of clicks on a particular ad. While they look similar to human clicks, in the background, the entire process is controlled by an assembly-line approach by the fraudsters.