What is Ad Click Fraud?
As the popularity of online advertising increases, so too does the problem of ad click fraud. This type of fraud happens when someone clicks on an ad with the intention of driving up the cost of the ad without any interest in the product or service being advertised. This can be a big challenge for online businesses like Shopify merchants because it wastes their advertising budget and makes it hard to reach their target market. There are some ways to prevent ad click fraud, like using click monitoring software.
Click fraud happens when someone, usually a bot, repeatedly clicks on an online ad in order to waste the advertiser's budget. This not only costs the advertiser money, but it can also skew the metrics used to measure the success of an ad campaign.
One of the main reasons for the increase in click fraud is the rise of automation tools. These tools make it easy for someone to set up a bot that can click on ads thousands of times a day. Also, many of these bots are smart enough to act like humans, which makes it hard for ad platforms to identify and stop them.
So, what can Shopify businesses do to protect themselves from click fraud?
5 Top Strategies to Defend Your Ad Spend:
1 - Use a Tool to Find and Stop Click Fraud
There are a number of tools that can help advertisers find and stop click fraud. Some popular options include ClickCease, Fraudlogix, and ClickGuard. These tools can help advertisers find suspicious activity and stop bots from doing damage before they do.
This article is not sponsored, but we thought it would be illustrative to share our experience with ClickCease with some insights:
Step 1 Implement Tracking on Google Tag Manager: We placed the code on GTM and started tracking clicks and IP addresses. This was a crucial step in our refund journey as it allowed us to gather data to support our refund application.
Step 2 Apply for the refund: once we had enough data we applied for the refund from Google. It's important to note that only account managers can request the refund, which can be done every two months. We filled out the form from the provided link and attached all the necessary information.
Step 3 Receive the refund: The refund process was seamless and we received a credit refund from Google in just 7 days. Although the timeframe may vary depending on Google's workload, we were thrilled with the outcome and couldn't wait to put the credit to use for our future advertising costs.
In conclusion, claiming a credit refund from Google is a smart way for advertisers to maximise the return on investment for their advertising campaigns. We highly recommend giving it a try and experiencing the benefits you see below for yourself.
2 - Monitor your Ad Campaign Metrics
One of the best ways to detect click fraud is to pay attention to your Shopify business’ ad campaign metrics. Look for any unusual spikes in clicks or conversions that seem too good to be true. If you notice anything suspicious, it's worth investigating further.
If you are advertising on Google, there’s a way to discover how clicks are affecting your ads by looking up the invalid click numbers and invalid interaction rate at the campaign level:
- go to columns
- modify columns under the ‘performance’ section
- select invalid clicks > invalid interactions > invalid interaction rate.
Compare these figures with those from at least six months ago and see if they have increased.
Google considers invalid clicks to be all clicks that are illegitimate, such as unintentional clicks caused by double-clicking an ad, or clicks by malicious software such as bots or VPNs. Google has its own system to identify invalid clicks, and once these have been identified, Google filters them from the report and won’t charge online vendors for any invalid clicks. Google claims that if their system discovers invalid clicks that escaped automation detection, the advertiser may be eligible for a refund for those invalid activities.
As we mentioned above, checking the invalid clicks will help you identify how critical your ads are regarding click fraud. If you spend at least £1,000 per month and see an increase in invalid clicks at the campaign level, it's worth investing in ad protection software. Typically, these software packages include trial options that allow you to test them out and determine whether they are worthwhile.
3 - Use a Whitelist
A whitelist is a list of IP addresses or domains that you have approved to see your ads. By only allowing approved sources to view your Shopify store’s ads, you can reduce the risk of click fraud.
These can be done manually, but it’s a time-consuming process, and it's not possible to have a record of all the IP addresses for your campaign. On the other hand, it is always worthwhile to block as many IP addresses as possible from people who don’t necessarily need to interact with your ad to prevent them from seeing your ads and clicking on them unintentionally, such as employees of the organisation you are advertising.
4 - Use a Tracking Pixel
A tracking pixel is a small piece of code that you can add to your website. This code allows you to track the activity of your ads, including where clicks are coming from and how many clicks an ad is getting. This data can help you identify patterns of fraudulent activity.
It is a straightforward task where you can copy and paste the code from the fraud software you choose, and place it on your website.
We used Google Tag Manager (GTM) to place the code, and it was straightforward. If you have multiple GTM accounts under your belt, you might want to:
- select the account where you want to place the code
- create a new tag
- choose a custom configuration
- copy and paste the code
- name the tag "previous test" before submitting the tag
Once you've completed these steps, your account will immediately begin blocking malicious clicks.
5 - Stay Aware of Industry Trends
Click fraud is a constantly evolving problem for most online advertising platforms, including Google Ads, Microsoft ads (Bing and LinkedIn), Meta ads, Twitter ads, programmatic ads, and so on, with new tactics and technologies constantly being developed. Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the industry to ensure that you are using the most effective methods to protect your business from click fraud.
Another way to understand is by searching for your industry benchmark click fraud, which will give you a rough idea of the percentage of your industry's click fraud. Another feature you can easily find in ClickCease provides you with past 30-day industry fraud benchmarks for your industry.
In conclusion, click fraud is a serious problem that can cost Shopify businesses a lot of money. By being proactive and taking the necessary steps to protect your business, you can reduce the risk of click fraud and ensure that your ad budget is being used effectively.
If you need any support with managing your PPC campaigns, our team of experts are on hand to create, optimise and run them for you. Simply get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.