The Different Types Of PPC Fraud

For as long as PPC advertising has been around there have been those looking to exploit the system in an effort to put their competitors out of business. Most are aware of click fraud, the most prevalent form of PPC fraud, but there are many other types of fraudulent attacks that you must know about as an advertiser. Don’t think for a second that these exploits are rare and cannot happen to you or the campaign you are managing. These harmful events have become part of the digital advertising ecosystem and some marketers are already “baking” fraud into their ROI (not a great way to deal with fraud). Follow this guide to learn about the other forms of PPC fraud and how to combat them.

Impression Fraud

Also known as a type of affiliate fraud. Using affiliates can be very beneficial for a business as it is a great way to increase sales/sign-ups. However, sometimes the affiliates employe fraudulent practices to increase their commissions and hurt the company they are supposed to be helping. Normally, affiliates enter an arrangement with the company where they are unable to submit bids for the brand name or its primary keywords. This stops them from competing with the brand and making their keywords cost go up.

When affiliates are committing impression fraud they are using the company’s brand to create an advantage that they otherwise would not have. People are more likely to click on ads that are from a known brand. Using the company’s brand gives the affiliate more validity. Users will click on the ad unaware that is is an impersonation and then be redirected to the company’s website. When they make a purchase it will be credited to the affiliate and they will receive a commission.

This type of affiliate fraud has several negative effects on the company costing lots of money. Not only does the company have an increased price of keywords but they also will be paying commission to someone who is scamming them. Most think that this is only applicable to companies that use affiliate programs but that is not true. Many large brands have been impersonated. The advertisers then will direct you to their website. An example is if you clicked on an ad for Amazon and are directed to a different site. To combat this type of fraud you need to use a direct linking with an affiliate scheme to your site.

PPC Phishing Scams

This next scam might even be worse than the last one. Fraudsters are constantly outdoing themselves creating more vicious and intricate ways to dupe people. Phishing is a common practice in email marketing. Users are sent fake emails in an effort to get personal identifying information or bank credentials. However, there is a new type of phishing that uses the PPC network.

PPC phishing offenders create fake versions of well-known companies and brands such as banks. They have a website that is very similar to the actual companies site. An example is if someone is trying to log onto the JP Morgan account and are directed to a JPP Morgan page. Most people will be unable to see the differences between the real site and the fraudulent site and may disclose confidential login information leaving them vulnerable to fraud. As a user or an actual business, it is important to make sure you are on the secure site before entering any identifying information.

Ad Hiding/Stacking

Ad Hiding/stacking is a very prevalent type of fraud that is commonly seen on networks that are less regulated. All ad networks have terms and conditions on how ads should be displayed. Unfortunately, there are people who do not abide by the rules. With ad hiding/stacking web owners trick users into clicking on ads. This brings them more money since they are paid each time someone clicks on an ad. There are many ways that they hide and stack ads. The most used is having an invisible ad over a certain part of the website. Users will unknowingly click on the ad. This is not allowed under the terms and conditions of the ad network but it is very difficult to track if the webmaster is hiding the ad. Ad stacking is when the webmaster stacks multiple ads on top of each other. This works on ads that are not PPC but the cost per impression. This allows the website to generate lots of impressions and more money. Even if an ad is hidden underneath another one it will still count as an impression and the user will be paid. To combat this, ad networks need to be very vigilant and make sure that people are not breaking the terms and conditions.

Click Fraud

The most common type of PPC fraud we left for last.

Click fraud is what happens when a party that is uninterested in doing business with you knowingly clicks on your ads in order to spend your advertising budget. 

This can be a few manual clicks per day or it can be an automated script (bot) that clicks on your ads chronically. The classic result of this type of fraud is the advertiser spending his money on useless clicks and the offender getting the customers of that advertiser.

All of these are very common ways that fraudsters try to gain an unfair advantage and make money. It is important to keep an eye out for these practices. Having someone on your team who is always looking out for fraud is a very good way to keep yourself protected. I hope this article helps you understand the threats that are out there and how to combat them.


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