How Google Ads Can Help Facilitate Ad Fraud
Ad fraud is a very real problem that costs advertisers billions each year. Though it might sound strange, those who perpetrate ad fraud can do so using a combination of creative strategies and the Google Ads platform. Yes, you read that correctly. Google Ads can help facilitate ad fraud.
For the record, there are numerous ways to perpetrate ad fraud ranging from click farms to bots and ripping off affiliate marketing programs. In the case of utilizing ad fraud through Google Ads, the goal is to click on pay-per-click (PPC) ads for the sole purpose of increasing charges.
How PPC Works
One must understand how PPC works in order to understand how Google Ads can be roped in. PPC advertising is based on a model that charges advertisers only when their ads are clicked. Advertisers bid for the keywords that will determine where and how frequently their ads are displayed.
Being that Google pretty much drives the internet, they also control the PPC market. But not all ads published through the Google Ads platform are actually displayed on Google search engine results pages (SERPs). Therein lies the proverbial fly in the ointment.
Third Party Add Servers
The makers of the Fraud Blocker click fraud detection software explain that Google utilizes what they call the Google Display Network to maximize advertising potential and revenue. This network is essentially a group of third party websites and mobile apps that serve Google Ads. This arrangement is an open invitation to click fraud.
A fraudster can sign up to be part of the network. In so doing, he creates a third party publishing platform through which Google Ads are displayed. A certain portion of the revenue generated by every click goes to the fraudster. It is almost like a commission payment. And just like Google itself, the fraudster depends on clicks to generate revenue.
Fraudsters have multiple options for maximizing clicks:
- Ad Stacking – Stacking multiple ads that are too small to be seen with the naked eye generates tons of illegitimate clicks with every legitimate click on a regular ad. Ad stacking can be challenging to detect.
- Accidental Clicks – Creating tiny ads that cannot be seen also facilitates a scheme known as accidental clicks. This is a form of mobile ad fraud that takes advantage of the fact that people are not always accurate with their aim when tapping their phones.
- Click Farms – Click farms are business entities that utilize a combination of human workers and online devices to seek out and click on PPC ads.
- Click Bots – Fraudsters with the right knowledge can write software packages known as click bots. These click bots are distributed to multiple computers were they then work 24/7 to seek out ads and click on them.
All these different forms of ad fraud are made possible through nefarious publishing platforms. When those publishing platforms are part of the Google Display Network, they potentially have access to the billions of searches Google users conduct every day.
Working to Stop It
In their defense, Google isn’t sitting idly by and letting click fraud perpetrators do whatever they want. The company is constantly seeking out fraudsters and taking them down. They are routinely adjusting their technology tools to better identify fraud in its earliest stages.
The unfortunate reality is that ad fraud will probably never be completely vanquished. For every new strategy Google and other tech companies come up with, fraudsters find a workaround. It is a cat-and-mouse game that requires constant vigilance. It’s also something online advertisers should make a point of paying attention to.