How Does A Click Fraud Prevention Platform Work?

Sam Carr | May 6th, 2021

click fraud prevention cover

Ad fraud is an ever-growing problem in paid search, with the advertising industry facing a $35 billion loss to fraudsters in 2020.

It’s clear businesses have an uphill struggle against online fraudsters, but the fightback is already underway.

In recent years, there have been plenty of new click fraud prevention platforms which are helping tackle the spiraling ad fraud losses.

If you don’t already know, click fraud prevention platform stops invalid traffic and protects campaigns from malicious activity, which helps advertisers get more out of their ad spend.

Understanding how click fraud prevention platforms work is crucial for understanding how powerful and essential they are. Not only will you discover the full extent of the click fraud problem, but you’ll also learn how to deal with it.

And that’s exactly what we’re covering in this guide. With essential insights into why it’s crucial you fight back and why every PPC manager should be using a click fraud prevention platform.

What Is A Click Fraud Prevention Platform?

Click fraud prevention platforms detect and minimize ad fraud across paid search campaigns.

At PPC Protect, our automated software uses advanced AI to monitor and protect online ads. It does this process in real-time with no need for human input.

You can read about how our click fraud platform works for a complete insight into how our system operates.

But here’s a quick summary of our system in action.

Whenever a user clicks on one of your ads, the platform analyzes the IP address and the user’s browsing environment. These two steps determine whether the click is fraudulent or not.

If the click is fraudulent (such as from a malicious bot or fraud ring), the user is added to the Google Ads IP exclusion list, and they no longer see any of your ads.

With click fraud now an enormous international problem, this software is essential for any business running paid search campaigns.

Whether you’re an SME or a large organization, anti-click fraud software stops invalid traffic and ensures you only spend money advertising on genuine customers.

For busy business owners and PPC managers, you need one to maximize the full potential of your ad budget.

How Does A Click Fraud Prevention Platform Work?

Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a more detailed look at how click fraud prevention platforms like PPC Protect work step by step. The whole process starts before the ad receives any clicks at all.

The Tracking Template

tracking template

The tracking template is the most important part of the system, as it tracks all of the clicks on your ads. Without the template, any system won’t be able to determine if the user is real or a bot.

The good news? It’s easy to install. All you need to do is head to your Google Ads account and add it under the account settings.

Then you paste the tracking template into your account. That’s it! Done and dusted in under three minutes.

And click fraud prevention systems aren’t invasive. There are no interruptions. It works in the background blacklisting fraudulent activity, and you don’t need to manually manage the software.

It also doesn’t affect your website loading times or the speed of your ads. It tracks all of your clicks and investigates them in real-time, all within milliseconds.

Data Collection

data collection

Once a user clicks on one of your ads, the platform enters into a data collection phase. There are over 250 data points the system gathers, including the:

  • IP address
  • Browser
  • Device ID
  • Resolution
  • User-agent
  • Location

We send this information to the system using the tracking template. With it, we can record more information than Google does as part of its invalid traffic prevention service.

It’s called server-side fingerprinting, and it’s a type of data collection that preserves the privacy of the device and user in question.

We store all of this data in a huge database that benefits every customer. The more data we have, the more effective we are at stopping all click fraud.

With fingerprinting, we can give each device a unique ID to identify fraudsters and put them on a blacklist. This means even if a fraudster changes their IP address, we still know it’s them.

Analysis

data analysis

The next step involves a systematic analysis of every single incoming click. Our system works out, click by click, the chances of it being fraudulent.

When PPC Protect analyzes a click, our platform checks our extensive database. This has 40,000+ accounts and billions of clicks. So, when you receive a click, we cross-reference this list to check if we’re already tracking an IP.

All of this takes place in real-time, thanks to our advanced machine learning technology.

We also check public records to see if the user is a library, VPN, cafe, or mobile network provider.

Remember, public blacklists and records aren’t always updated quickly. That’s why we rely on first-party data and back it up with third-party data for complete protection from fraudsters.

Exclusions

ip exclusions

Once we confirm a user is fraudulent, that’s when we block the IP. So, we’re only ever going to block malicious behavior after double checking. That means there’s no effect on genuine customers.

It’s a delicate balancing act to manage. This is for two reasons:

  1. We don’t want to block users too soon, as it can decrease sales and customers
  2. We don’t want to block users too late, or you’ll lose ad budget

Once we determine malicious users, they’re added straight to the IP exclusion list. Our secure and audited API system does this.

We don’t need any managerial access for this step, so your account is secure. Although this is only the case with Google.

Continual Analysis

continual analysis

Currently, there’s a 500 IP limit in Google Ads with no way of getting around it. This means that we regularly check user’s exclusion lists.

We use Click Threat Limit™ to do this. It ensures we regularly swap IPs to ensure our blacklist is full of IPs most likely to commit ad fraud.

This is the most effective way to offer complete protection on the market.

Are All Click Fraud Platforms The Same?

You might have noticed several click fraud solutions on the market. But do they all provide the same level of service?

No, they don’t. Different platforms often use different technology and strategies when dealing with click fraud. Here’s a breakdown of the main differences.

AI vs Settings

Unlike some other click fraud prevention platforms, PPC Protect uses AI in a number of different ways to maximize precision.

We ensure data fed into our system is accurate. To do that, we run automated tests on known invalid traffic sources to train the system. This means it’s continuously learning and evolving at the same speed as fraudsters.

On other click fraud platforms, you need to manage your settings manually, painstakingly adjusting every option to get the perfect results. But with PPC Protect, the system takes care of everything for you.

The good news? That means our system handles repetitive tasks you’d normally have to manage across over 200 manual settings.

AI is also more precise than humans. And the technology is becoming incredibly advanced.

For example, OpenAI’s GPT-3, is a sophisticated text predictor with 175 billion parameters. This means it can write HTML code from scratch and write realistic articles that have fooled plenty of readers!

Web Technology

Many click fraud platforms use JavaScript tracking codes. While these work in the battle against click fraud, they can slow down websites when not loaded asynchronously.

Even if you have loaded them async, it increases the load and resources on your website. In turn, that can affect your SEO and overall user experience.

But the real issue for JavaScript is privacy. From your side, you have to trust the supplier isn’t:

  • Adding anything potentially damaging for you into their code
  • Collecting data they aren’t disclosing to you
  • Going to be hacked, as a hacker could then add malicious code to your site

Advanced fraud rings and other cybercriminals will also have few problems defeating the software. For example, if your protection is just JavaScript-based, they’ll simply turn off JavaScript in their browsers.

Server Structure

Having a stable and scalable server infrastructure is essential for any fraud preventiontool.

Unfortunately, there are ad fraud platforms out there that don’t have scaling server structures.

That means if there’s a significant increase in clicks, it can knock their servers offline. And if they’re down, all your ads will lead to 404 error pages and waste your budget!

There are more scalable systems around that are built with enterprise solutions such as Amazon AWS. These can deal with larger spikes in ad clicks as they scale with resources in real-time.

There’s also the matter of data redundancy. You’ll want a system that maintains multiple backups to avoid the loss of data. You may need this on an enterprise-level.

This step is important in the event of unexpected developments, such as damage to a datacenter that destroys your data.

So, it’s essential to choose a platform that doesn’t have consistent downtime.

Not all ad fraud solutions offer this, which places many advertiser’s campaigns at risk.

Managerial Access vs API

Many click fraud platforms use managerial rights to gain complete access to your Google Ads account. A click fraud prevention platform shouldn’t do this!

Granting managerial access to Google Ads can have serious consequences, such as data breaches that expose private business data.

At PPC Protect, we use API access to your account (a system approved by Google).

The only thing we do is edit your blacklist. We’ll never ask for managerial access, which means your account has total privacy and security.

Choose Your Platform Carefully

With ad fraud on the rise, more and more businesses are turning to click fraud prevention platforms.

But which system should you choose? There’s a growing market with a lot of choices.

It’s important you make the right decision. One that protects your ad budget with industry-leading technology, but also keeps your private data safe from prying eyes.

Even if PPC Protect isn’t the right solution for you, we’ll still point you in the right direction. That’s because we offer total transparency.

If you think we’re the right fit, then we provide a system that takes less than three minutes to install, doesn’t interfere with your daily campaign management, and delivers real value.

Check out our ad fraud pricing to get started. There’s a no-obligation free trial period where we’ll monitor your clicks and report back on how many were illegitimate and how much that cost you. We can also project how much you could potentially save per month when you’re protected.

You can also book a free demo to see the platform in action.

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Ready to Beat Click Fraud?