It results from fraudulent clicks created to either make money or secure a service/item for free. It is done by creating an artificial page view, which creates revenue and sometimes leads to getting items for free. The ad they have created will get money or something valuable in return. It is also done with drive-by or organic clicks.
Is Click Fraud Illegal?
Many people ask, is click fraud illegal? Yes, it is considered fraudulent, and it will go on the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel site.
Why Does It Happen?
The most common would be when trying to get something free, such as a free album download, free airfare through the airline, free movie tickets, etc. It is very common in the music industry because they want to create a lot of revenue to make album sales; therefore, it is extremely common in the music industry.
How To Avoid
– Use an adblocker.
– Review all e-mail correspondence from all websites that you use or purchase from, including contact with customer service. The company will try to make you believe that they are contacting you but use your common sense.
– Be aware of who you are doing business with and their reputation in the industry they are working in. Reputable companies will not ask customers to disclose personal information. It could lead to identity theft.
– Be aware of what you are doing when you are on a website. Sites will display ads that may want your attention to make sure they get more clicks by placing more ads on their page. They will try to trick you by putting a small countdown timer or something that resembles that of a video player. If you are not aware of these, they could trick you into clicking and losing money.
– Check the URL’s on the advertisements that you click on. Ensure that the URL is legitimate, i.e., does the site own that domain.
– Check with Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and others to see if they have an ad fraud alert program for that company’s website. If something is brought to their attention, they can take action quickly and prevent it from happening again.
– Be wary of any advertisement that may offer something for free. Always keep in mind that some offers are too good to be true.
– Check the reputation of an ad network before doing business with them. This way, you will know if their reputation is clean.
– Verify any e-mail correspondence from a website’s customer service by going directly to their website and filling out the form normally through your internet browser, instead of replying to the e-mail itself. That will reduce the chances of being a victim.
– Double-check the URL’s on the advertisements that you are clicking on and make sure that they are legitimate. If a website is asking for personal information, chances are it’s a scam, so go to the actual site and fill out all necessary forms. Remember that sometimes fraudsters will go as far as creating a site identical to the actual one. To verify in this instance, you can google the “official” name with the word scam or hoax. That will show if there are any reports or comments about that site.
– Keep track of what you are clicking on an ad-sense or any other page after you’ve clicked on an ad, search online to see if there were other instances where one like it appeared before you. If so, then it is likely that someone or something is trying to trick you into clicking on their ad and losing money.
– Make sure that the URLs of the website you are on match up with what they say they are. If you see a website with a URL of www.testdomain.com, but the actual site is www.testdomain.com/index.html, then something is suspicious because the two don’t match up.
Who is responsible for it?
The one who carries it out is usually the same person that owns or controls the particular website where the advertisement is displayed. For example, if someone creates an ad that directs users to a website, pay-per-click, or pay-per-view site, they can place their code on the page and create fraudulent clicks.
However, some companies generate revenues through pay-per-click mechanisms and fraudulently generate traffic using automated scripts or bots with multiple IP addresses. Advertisers will use this service to make a conversion-friendly website. The fraudsters behind these sets of IPs will target real users’ traffic, know their interests, copy their user agent, and then redirect the users to the fraudulent site to generate revenues.
To combat it, brands and advertisers need to understand what click fraud is, how it takes place, and the different ways in which it can generate artificial human traffic.
One of the first steps to combat it is for advertisers to implement an automated process for verifying website visits. Brands and advertisers must develop a mechanism to identify if real people are clicking their adverts or if they are just bots.
It is a big problem regarding the amount of money that advertisers and brands lose, financially and technologically. It causes many problems with website performance and can even crash websites completely. Therefore, stakeholders in the advertising industry should create a strategy to prevent click fraud, especially because it is difficult to detect.