How to Fight Click Fraud in Digital Marketing
Are you protecting yourself against click fraud?
Are you running, or considering running a Display advertising campaign? Though it’s not the only medium affected, Display is particularly susceptible to click fraud. But do not fear, I’m going to share some measures that you can take to minimize your exposure.
Just in case you aren’t aware, there is occasionally artificially inflated traffic from both human and non-human sources in digital marketing, commonly referred to as click fraud. It basically drives up the cost of online advertising as disingenuous clicks waste budget and do not convert.
Unfortunately, click fraud is becoming more prevalent as online marketers turn to programmatic tools and other indirect methods to manage their media buys. Programmatic advertising tools are automated systems that allow for advanced targeting and a high level of customization in Display and other forms of online advertising. The unfortunate trade-off for programmatic and even network/exchange media buying is that it can open the door for fraudulent traffic. This can sometimes result in marketers paying for clicks that are not generating any positive return on investment.
Unless you are deeply involved in managing SEM campaigns that use programmatic tools, the vast information surrounding click fraud can be overwhelming. This is why I’ve set out 3 simple questions that every marketer using online advertising should ask their agencies and/or vendors in order to minimize their exposure.
1. How are your vendors currently addressing click fraud?
Some networks are better than others at monitoring and identifying fraudulent activities, but your agency should only be using ones that have a documented mitigation strategy. Google, for example, clearly outlines the various steps that it takes to combat click fraud, as well as the effect that it has on the end marketer. If you advertise on AdWords (Google) you may have noticed that they regularly credit your account for “invalid traffic” that they deem to be disingenuous.
Obviously not every Display network operates on the scale of Google, but for those vendors there are third-party ad verification tools offered by companies such as “Integral AdScience” and “DoubleVerify”. These third parties basically check the quality of publishers prior to bidding on ad space, which helps to identify potential issues that are not consistent with normal human behaviour.
Whatever the process, if your vendor tries to downplay the issue without providing a mitigation strategy, then that’s probably an indication that you should consider other options.
2. What are you monitoring to spot fraudulent activity?
The responsibility doesn’t just lie with the vendors and publishers. A good SEM specialist/agency will monitor analytics data to spot potential anomalies. At the very least, our Senior Analytics wiz, Krista suggests monitoring the following:
– Unusual spikes in impressions
– Unusual spikes in the total number of clicks
– No increase in the number of conversions during impression/click peaks
– High volumes of clicks/sessions from strange referral sources
– A drop in the number of page views during peaks in impressions or clicks
– Higher bounce rate during impression or click spikes
3. How are you optimizing your campaign to minimize your exposure to click fraud?
Part of the problem with click fraud is the entire industry is incentivized to optimize towards lower CPM. Unfortunately, this allows the lower quality sites to flourish because they sell their ad space cheap. The general consensus? To protect against fraud, marketers must pay for exposure on higher quality sites and to commit demand a greater emphasis on deeper metrics from those publishers. Quality definitely trumps quantity in this space and advertisers must be the ones to drive this change!
In one of my previous posts I talked about a better costing model, which takes into account the need for a pair of human eyes to actually see the ad. Unfortunately this model hasn’t been widely accepted (yet), so we are forced to look at other metrics like the ones I mentioned above.
Fight the Fraud!
The adaptability and resourcefulness of fraudsters leads me to believe that this problem will continue to evolve in line with changes in technology. However, a little diligence on the part of your agency or SEM folks, coupled by the occasional inquiry from you, will help ensure that the benefits of a properly managed Display campaign far outweigh the risks.
Please feel free to ask questions below. I’m more than happy to discuss.