robot ai fraud cover pic

Does Click Fraud Detection Work? How AI Is Helping To Detect Fraudsters

Andrew Swindlehurst

Andrew Swindlehurst

November 7th, 2019

After getting a degree in Physics, Andy has become a data wizard which means he splits his time between researching for us and min-maxing World of Warcraft.

google invalid clicks report

Have you ever logged into your Google Ads account only to notice a dramatic increase in the number of clicks?

For many users, the thought of having an increase in clicks and traffic is a good thing. More clicks equals more sales right?

It’s only upon further investigation that users notice these extra clicks never converted and just ended up costing money. Maybe they were just unlucky and none of the visitors converted, or maybe competitors started clicking your ads!

Click fraud might have been around since the early days of PPC, but it’s only recently that people have started to tackle the growing trend.

Click fraud is everywhere. Every network and every campaign experiences it to some degree. Nobody is safe from these malicious fraudsters who aim to make a profit from your ads.

With countless culprits responsible for these fraudulent clicks, some companies are making a stand against these criminals and are fighting back in new ways.

With help from pattern detection algorithms and machine learning, identifying repetitive clicks has gone from an art to a science. Thanks to the growth of artificial intelligence, detecting fraudsters has never been easier or more accurate.

To give you an example of how click fraud detection works, we’re giving you a sneak peek into the special algorithms used to catch fraudsters. But before we take a look at click fraud detection methods and algorithms, let’s take a brief moment to remind ourselves what click fraud actually is.

A Quick Primer On Click Fraud

click fraud fish

Since the dawn of PPC networks, click fraud has been an increasing issue for many advertisers. Considering advertisers are charged for every click they received, they have the right to be worried about the legitimacy of their clicks.

With some keywords costing upwards of $100 each, just one fraudulent click can be extremely costly and often be the difference between profitability and failure.

Since competition can be extremely tough in PPC networks, some companies will often click their competitor’s ads in order to waste their budget. Not only does this decrease the effectiveness and ROI of their competitor’s campaign, but in some cases, it can stop the campaign from running altogether.

If you continuously receive fraudulent clicks every day then it’s only a matter of time before you either do something about it or give up entirely.

With click fraud being such a big problem, many companies have invested a lot of time and research into creating fraud-busting algorithms. Not only do these algorithms accurately detect fraudsters, but they can also do it on an incredibly large scale. This means no matter if you’re running 2 campaigns or 20,000 campaigns, you can feel safe knowing you’re protected.

Speaking of algorithms, how exactly do they detect click fraud in the first place?

Click Fraud Detection Algorithms

algorithm robot

It’s no secret that fraudsters leave clues behind when they click.

Think about this: if someone walked into a shop 10 times a day, it’s only a matter of time before you recognise them, no matter what disguise they’re wearing. There are some things you just can’t hide, regardless of their visual appearance.

Things such as how a person walks and holds themselves, their accent, and how they pronounce words, their mannerisms, and general behaviour.

The same concept applies when detecting fraudsters online. They might think they’re doing a good job covering their tracks, but there’s always something that gives them away. Maybe they use the same browser or mobile phone to click the ads, or they don’t bother to change their operating system. It’s mistakes like this that allow algorithms to detect repetitive clickers and take action.

But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, from our own research, there are a variety of different key traits of click fraud which can help detect fraudsters from their behaviour. By taking all of these characteristics and creating an automated detection algorithm, you can get an incredibly accurate detection rate.

By now you probably want the juicy details of how everything works and how you can use it on your own campaigns. Unfortunately, we can’t reveal all of our methods to the world, but we can give you a quick overview of how our software works.

How PPC Protect Detects Click Fraud

ppc protect click dashboard

The PPC Protect algorithm took over 2 years of continuous development and testing until we decided it was ready to be launched. Since then we’ve spent countless hours refining it and adding new detection methods. Here’s a brief overview of how the algorithm works:

1. User Clicks

When a user clicks a Google ad with PPC Protect enabled they are instantly directed through our external monitoring funnel. This redirect takes less than 100ms to load and is crucial in detecting fraudsters.

2. Data Collection

Once they’ve entered the funnel, the user’s data is collected including their device, IP address, resolution, user agent and over 100 more data points. All this data will become important later on when making a decision on if a user should be blocked or not.

3. Analyse Data

Once the data from the user has been collected the algorithm analyses the data to decide if the click is genuine or fraudulent. This involves many proprietary methods that have taken months to develop and fine-tune.

4. Makes A Decision

Once the analysis is complete, the software will either mark it as genuine or fraudulent. If for whatever reason there isn’t enough data or it can’t decide, it will mark it as suspicious. As a rule of thumb, the software will always be cautious. The last thing we want is to block a genuine user from seeing ads. Therefore, if there is even a little bit of doubt that a user might be genuine then the software won’t block it.

This same process is done for every single individual click that an ad receives no matter if it’s on the search, display, or shopping network. The result is a scalable click fraud detection system that can process tens of thousands of unique clicks every single day. This makes it ideal for small-time Google Ads users all the way up to large enterprise clients running thousands of campaigns.

The Best Click Fraud Detection Software

Looking for the best click fraud detection software on the market? Your search ends here.

PPC Protect is the industry-leading click fraud detection software that utilises the power of artificial intelligence to provide the industry’s best level of detection.

Featuring an advanced algorithm that collects over 140 unique data points, we take the guesswork out of click fraud with our data-backed decisions. With access to enormous amounts of data from tens of thousands of different campaigns, we know all the telltale signs of click fraud.

Why spend hours adjusting settings and defining rules when you can sit back and let us do the hard work? With our service, you’ll never have to manually block and IP address in AdWords again.

Don’t believe us? Sign up for a free 14-day trial below to see how much money you could save from click fraud.

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