The challenge for marketers is to proactively prevent fraud instances without stopping real-time traffic. How can they achieve it?

A common scenario for marketers is this: after determining the perfect call to action (CTA), honing in on targeted keywords, and dedicating a large chunk of budget to the platform, their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns don’t produce the expected levels of return-on-investment (ROI).

It can be incredibly frustrating when campaigns do not meet performance expectations, however these results are not always down to copywriting or your typical targeting issues, many external factors can also lead to diminished returns on ads, including invalid traffic and ad fraud. 

According to Statista, the costs related to digital advertising fraud worldwide are expected to reach $100 billion by 2023. The effects of fraud-based losses are especially felt in PPC advertising. PPC ad fraud can cause a knock-on effect on marketing budgets, ROI, and campaign data. Marketers need to put a comprehensive strategy in place that can stop future campaigns from being exposed to bad sources.

The challenge for marketers is to proactively prevent fraud instances without stopping real-time traffic. They need to protect their budgets whilst making sure real ad engagement isn’t caught in the crossfire. By addressing the barriers to growth, marketers can ensure that their PPC advertising campaigns reach their full potential and deliver new value in the future.

What is Invalid Traffic and Ad Fraud?

Ad fraud is a major threat impacting a marketer’s ability to deliver ROI. Ad fraud can present itself in different ways. The threat landscape ranges from competitors that purposefully engage with ads to drain budgets, click farms that drive invalid traffic, and external actors with malicious intentions. All of which can play havoc with an organization’s precious PPC budget.

Another struggle marketers face is tackling invalid traffic. Invalid traffic is often a subset of ad fraud, however not all invalid traffic is malicious. It is defined generally as traffic that does not meet certain quality criteria or otherwise does not represent legitimate traffic that should be included in measurement counts. The presence of invalid traffic renders campaign data unreliable, misdirects optimization efforts and ultimately prevents PPC advertising from achieving maximized results.

To effectively overcome these pain points, marketers need to deploy end-to-end protection and detection capabilities. By mitigating non-converting click throughs and ensuring ads are only shown to relevant users, marketers can leverage more potential from the same ad spend as before.

Bigger and Better Outcomes for PPC

Ad fraud is one of the biggest threats to marketers in 2021 and can greatly impact their ability to deliver optimized ROI from their campaign budgets. To drive better outcomes, marketers need to implement a solid strategy for mitigating fraud including malicious invalid traffic. There are a number of ways that they can maximize the potential of their future PPC campaigns.

  1.  Proactively Preventing Fraud
    Preventing malicious invalid traffic is the first step in PPC campaign optimization. Marketers need to harness the innovation of a platform that monitors every user who clicks through to their ads, continuously updating an exclusion list of invalid traffic in Google Ads to stop showing ads to bad actors and repeat visitors. Invalid traffic is prevented before it hits ad spend or pollutes performance data. This gives marketers more control through accurate reporting for optimization while also ensuring that investment is going towards reaching its intended target audience.

    On top of this, user behavior data collection ensures that IPs and placements that send valid traffic aren’t excluded from campaigns and false positives aren’t able to impact campaigns. By ensuring that only valid traffic reaches their PPC ads, they can capture huge cost savings and manage growing risks.
  2. Gaining Greater Visibility of Advertising Traffic
    The presence of invalid traffic remains within analytics tools across the board. If marketers are using Google Ads data to analyze performance and determine the best performing keywords, ad groups or advertising creatives, invalid traffic and fraudulent activity can potentially misdirect their efforts.

    Even with the necessary fraud prevention tools in place, there will always be some invalid traffic present in PPC campaigns. That is because some sources of invalid traffic also deliver genuine traffic that could be real customers – so it’s important that these sources aren’t stopped from seeing PPC ads.

    Despite this, marketers still need to know what is real and what is invalid. The presence of invalid traffic skews the metrics you use to guide optimization. Harnessing tools to compare campaigns, ad groups, keywords and creatives arms marketers with an understanding of true performance with verified traffic to guide your optimization efforts.
  3. Setting the Standard for Invalidation Rules
    There is no question that bidding on your own brand name and defending that search real estate from competitors is essential to most successful search strategies. However, for some specific types of businesses with high-frequency visitors, search advertising can be the front door that people use over and over again to enter your site. eCommerce and services provided through web apps are particularly vulnerable to this type of budget draining behavior.

    The main purpose of brand campaigns is to make it as easy as possible for potential customers still in the decision-making phase to get to your site and give them less opportunity to be distracted by a competitor’s ad. Loyal customers are habitually navigating through your ads to get to your website oblivious to the fact that they are clicking ads.

    This engagement, while clearly not malicious, is still recognized as invalid by industry standards including Google itself, which restricts layouts that promote this behavior in its publisher guidelines.

    Deploying behavioral reporting tools gives marketers an understanding of the frequency at which individual users arrive at a site via advertising. Custom invalidation rules can set a threshold to exclude PPC ads from displaying to these users. This ensures that less budget is wasted displaying advertising to people who are already heading to the site, and more budget is available to reach new customers.

Transforming Future Revenue Streams

Ad fraud has the potential to harm PPC advertising efforts without marketers even being aware of the problem. With large losses being caused by ad fraud and invalid traffic every year, now it is time for every marketer to understand the dangers of this fraud and how to mitigate it.

While the full picture of ad fraud will continue to evolve, businesses of all sizes can gain the visibility they need to fight ad fraud and invalid traffic by implementing the right practices. They can streamline this newly deployed innovation to deliver successful ROI and reach meaningful audiences in their PPC campaigns.