April 21, 2024


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Does Google Do Anything to Help Combat Click Fraud

A deep analysis of click fraud reveals that there are multiple ways to perpetrate it. Everything from click bots to maliciously installed software can generate ad traffic designed to pad the fraudster’s pockets without regard to whether the fraud harms advertisers. Given Google’s influence over both online search and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, do they do anything to help combat click fraud?

In a word, yes. Search Engine Watch put together a rather detailed piece in 2019 outlining the steps Google takes in the fight against click fraud. Even though Google is big enough to not be hurt substantially by the practice, the company still doesn’t want its advertisers hurt. That is with good reason. Advertisers harmed by click fraud are less likely to continue spending money on PPC ads.

Click Fraud in a Nutshell

The creators of the Fraud Blocker click fraud detection platform describe click fraud as a collection of strategies and tools designed to enrich fraudsters by generating illegitimate ad impressions. It is worth noting that Google does not refer to it as click fraud. Instead, they prefer the term ‘invalid clicks’.

At any rate, click fraud can be as simple as a single publisher who sets up a website filled with client ads. He then utilizes both manual clicks and automated tools to continually click on those ads, generating revenue with each one.

Such an unsophisticated scheme would not make the perpetrator rich. It would also be easy to detect. Still, the point is made – fraud click is practiced by generating ad traffic in ways other than legitimate customers following ads for legitimate purposes.

How Google Combats Click Fraud

Getting back to Google, the world’s most dominant online company has a variety of tools at its disposal. Its efforts start with its own PPC ad platform. Before an advertiser can begin buying ads from Google, it is thoroughly vetted by Google employees trained to spot fraudulent activity. Advertisers must be found squeaky clean before being allowed to establish an account and start buying ads.

Here are some other ways Google combats click fraud:

Sophisticated Filters

Google technicians have developed sophisticated filters capable of detecting the origins of large numbers of invalid clicks, then filtering out that traffic so future impressions cannot be fraudulently generated. The filters are the data equivalent of sewer traps. They do not allow fraudulent traffic to get through. Therefore, future clicks are never engaged.

Traffic Analysis

Dedicated Google algorithms monitor traffic 24/7. Where their own ads are concerned, they can monitor from where traffic is coming, how quickly it’s coming, and so on. If Google suspects instances of click fraud, it sends out warnings to the affected advertisers. It might also ban certain IP addresses if they are determined to be part of a click fraud scheme.

Manual Reviews

Believe it or not, Google utilizes manual reviews of everything from traffic to IP addresses and the actual clicks. Reviews are conducted by cyber security experts with the proper training to look for the right signals.

Why rely on manual reviews? Because automated tools only work as well as their programming. As soon as criminals figure out how an automated tool works, they start working on ways to get around it. Human reviewers are much more flexible. They are much more adept at spotting workarounds.

Click fraud costs advertisers billions every year. Google knows this, which is why they have joined the fight against it. It is to their advantage to stamp it out once and for all, thereby making their own ad platform more valuable to advertisers.