Click Fraud: How It’s Affecting Businesses and What You Can Do to Prevent Abuse

by | Nov 7, 2022 | Blog, Trust and Safety

If you’re in the business of buying or selling online advertising, you may have been affected by click fraud. Click fraud, or ad fraud, is a type of internet crime that occurs when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser, clicking on an ad without having any real interest in the product or service being advertised. In other words, click fraud is committed when someone clicks on an ad simply to generate revenue for the person or entity running the ad.

Click fraud has been around almost as long as online advertising itself, but it’s only recently that businesses have begun to take notice of the problem and its potential impact on their bottom line. With the rise of programmatic advertising, which relies heavily on automated bidding for ad placement, click fraud has become more prevalent and more difficult to detect. A report from Business of Apps earlier this year slated the total cost of ad fraud to be $81 billion in 2022, and if current trends continue, that number is expected to rise to $100 billion by 2023.

Aside from the financial impact, click fraud can also damage a brand’s reputation and hinder its ability to reach its target audience. When users repeatedly click on an ad without taking any action, it drives up the cost of the ad while simultaneously lowering its quality score— making it less likely that your ad will be served to users who are actually interested in what you’re selling. 

What’s more, click fraud can be used to launch malicious attacks against businesses. In some cases, cybercriminals have used click fraud to exhaust a company’s marketing budget or tie up its human resources so it can’t focus on more important tasks. 

So how do you protect your business from click fraud? Here are a few tips:

Implement safeguards at the campaign level

One way to protect your business from click fraud is to implement campaign-level safeguards such as frequency capping (limiting the number of times an ad is shown to a user) and geo-targeting (serving ads only to users in certain locations). By segmenting your audiences and capping the frequency with which they see your ads, you can reduce the chances of someone repeatedly clicking on your ads without taking any action.

Utilize analytics to detect fraudulent activity

Another way to protect your business from click fraud is to monitor your campaigns closely and utilize advanced analytics to look for any red flags that might indicate fraudulent activity. For example, if you notice a sudden spike in clicks coming from a particular IP address or location, it could be an indication that someone is targeting your business and attempting to commit click fraud. 

Analytic tools can help identify patterns that may be indicative of click fraud, such as sudden spikes in traffic from certain IP addresses or clicking patterns that deviate from the norm. Additionally, businesses can make use of anti-fraud software solutions that are designed specifically to detect and prevent click fraud. These solutions typically work by blocking traffic from known malicious actors or by flagging suspicious activity so that it can be further investigated.

Educate yourself and your team about best practices

Finally, one of the best ways to protect your business from click fraud is to educate yourself and your team about best practices for identifying and preventing fraudulent activity. When everyone on your team knows what to look for, you’ll be better equipped to identify potential threats and take steps to prevent them before they do harm to your business.

Click fraud is a serious problem affecting businesses of all sizes all over the world. By taking steps to safeguard your campaigns and educating yourself about best practices for preventing click fraud, you can protect your business from this growing threat. If you have a wider-spread platform issue, threat intelligence from a managed threat intelligence provider may be the solution.

About Nisos®

Nisos is The Managed Intelligence Company®. Our services enable security, intelligence, and trust and safety teams to leverage a world-class intelligence capability tailored to their needs. We fuse robust data collection with a deep understanding of the adversarial mindset delivering smarter defense and more effective response against advanced cyber attacks, disinformation, and abuse of digital platforms.