The term ‘click fraud’ is the act of illegally clicking on pay-per-click (PPC) ads in order to increase site revenue or to exhaust an organisation’s advertising budget. It is vastly different from invalid clicks (those which are repeated or made by the advert’s host/publisher) in that it is intentional, malicious as well as has no potential for the advert to result in a sale.
Who Perpetuates Click Fraud?
In some cases, click fraud is achieved by a firm’s competitors. A competitor could click on a company’s online ads to try and drive up the amount that the firm which pays for the search term. If click fraud is done effectively enough, it can actually push a competing business out of the market.
The practice of click fraud is sometimes utilised by advert publishers in an attempt to “game” paid search advertising. This is a very common practice on affiliate networks where marketers sometimes have little insight into the advertising data.
Although not technically click fraud, customers sometimes engage in behaviour which appears similar. This takes place when one user regularly clicks on paid search advertisements in order to visit a specific website as opposed to navigating directly or from a search engine. While not click fraud as traditionally defined, such behaviour may nevertheless be characterised by search engines as potentially fraudulent, with any payment for the suspicious clicks subject to invalidation.