Home Guides and Tutorials What Is Click Fraud and How to Prevent It?

What Is Click Fraud and How to Prevent It?

by Adsterra Team

Click fraud, or pay-per-click fraud, is one of the most relevant and serious threats facing advertisers.

Scammers exhaust advertising budgets by using special programs (bots, scripts, and others). They use click fraud to create an illusion of an increase in the number of potential customers. Every year they lose millions of dollars due to click fraud.

Advertisers believe their ad campaigns are really working because the number of clicks is increasing, but the truth is that more than fifty percent of these clicks are made by accident or by fraudsters.

Today, we are going to talk about this problem in detail and cover the main issues of click fraud. This article will be useful both for publishers and advertisers. We will mention:

  • Types of click fraud;
  • How click fraud can affect your campaign;
  • How to detect and prevent click fraud;
  • What services to use;
  • Difference between click fraud and accidental clicks.

What are accidental clicks?

Accident clicks occur when a user is viewing and scrolling a website and accidentally clicks on a border of an image or a banner. According to the statistics, static ads have 38% of accidental clicks, and rich media banner ads have 13%of accidental clicks. 

Another type of accidental clicks is delayed clicking. This happens because of randomly located hidden click buttons. Google has fixed this issue by adding a time factor: now, an ad cannot be opened until it has been on the screen for a specific amount of time (only Google knows how long, and why the amount of time is important).

Main source of accidental clicks is bad UX. 

We at Adsterra always recommend our publishers not to put ads too close to navigation buttons and links, as it may negatively affect their CPM rates. 

You can read more about ad placing mistakes in our article:

If you’re a marketer dealing with an ad network with thousands of publishers, you can’t check all their websites, of course. But you will have tools and metrics to check the quality of traffic coming from any ad placement. The worst placements with poor CR can be blacklisted. 

To read more about traffic listing, you can click the block below:

Monetize and advertise with a powerful ad platform that takes care of your brand safety.

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What is click fraud?

Click fraud is the intentional clicks on pay-per-click (PPC) ads to deplete a company’s advertising budget or earn a website owner’s income.

Fraudsters use click fraud techniques for the following purposes:

  • Increase in advertising costs of a competitor;
  • Decrease in CTR of ads;
  • Increase in the revenue of a third-party site on which other marketers place offers.

There are two types of click frauds: manual and automatic.

Manual click frauds

In most cases, this type of click fraud doesn’t entail tangible problems since search engines quickly find it and compensate the advertiser for losses. Manual click fraud is usually carried out by representatives of competing companies.

However, there are exceptions when a competing company hires entire teams to deplete the budget of its rival. Special agencies do this work very well because they use different IP addresses and imitate the behavior of ordinary users as accurately as possible. Most often, this type of click fraud occurs in very expensive, high-margin, and highly liquid spheres.

Automatic click frauds

Various programs, bots, and algorithms are used for automatic click fraud. The more complex and sophisticated the algorithm is, the harder it is for the search engine to detect it and protect you. Naturally, the cost of their use also depends on the complexity of such programs or bots. Usually, it varies from 1 to 10 thousand dollars.

What is a click bot?

Bots are programs or scripts created for automatic click fraud. They imitate human actions, then they follow the ad and immediately leave it. There are “smart” bots that don’t leave the site within 2-5 seconds. Sometimes the bot stays on the landing page for up to 15 seconds. The result is a quick drain on the budget. Sometimes it only takes a few hours.

Website owners with advertising often resort to traffic from bots. Thus they increase their remuneration and also provide high-performance indicators for the site for further placements.

It is important to eliminate click fraud

If you have connected your website to the affiliate advertising network, you should know that click fraud is dangerous not only for advertisers. For an unmotivated or bot click on an ad, which cannot lead to the targeted action, as a partner, you will receive your reward in any case. But if the advertiser detects fraud, nothing good will happen.

You shouldn’t rely on chance. Not to be blacklisted or blocked, it is better to foresee everything in advance and install a click fraud protection system. And this is not only a matter of conscience, it is also an indicator of common sense.

Fighting bot attacks will not only increase your reputation in the eyes of advertisers. Valid traffic will reduce the risk of DDoS attacks, the average cost per CDN, the risk of fines from ad networks, and will save you money.

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How can click fraud affect your website?

  • The number of orders decreases for the owner of a web source, while advertising costs only increase. This negatively affects work efficiency, and the business brings less income.
  • The advertisement disappears from the relevant sites for a while, and sometimes this happens for a long time. During this period, visitors go to the competing sites. So your income decreases, and the competitors’ income increases.
  • Some sites may perceive you use click fraud as a method of SEO promotion. After that, your website will be blocked. 

In simple terms, click fraud aims to significantly reduce the effectiveness of your advertising for a long period, increase costs for it and reduce revenues.

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What about Adsterra?

Accident clicks influence the quality of the traffic. At Adsterra, we strive to provide high-quality traffic by means of ad safety and effective security systems. 

We offer you Adsterra multi-level security features:

  • real-time ad fraud detection and prevention from any device and OS,
  • ongoing GEOs and traffic sources’ monitoring with in-house AI-powered algorithms,
  • additional manual verification of the newly-added traffic sources,
  • fast inventory blocking after detecting ad fraud.

This helps to filter and reject bot traffic, click farms, malware, and viruses to ensure brand safety.

Sign up to start your first campaign with Adsterra and check the quality of our traffic and effectiveness of advertising strategies yourself!

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How to identify click fraud?

The first sign is a sharp increase in spending and advertising traffic. Advertising campaigns start very quickly and stop due to the exhaustion of the advertising budget for the day.

If you cannot explain this by natural causes (for example, you made some changes to the campaign), then with a high degree of probability, this is nothing more than click fraud.

But even if you have some explanation for such an increase in advertising traffic, you should pay attention to a couple of points that should alert you:

  • Check the natural seasonal demand for your product (for example, in WordStat) and compare it with your data and with the demand curve for the year. If the data differs significantly (demand is much higher on your graph than on the natural one), most likely, you have faced click fraud.
  • A sharp increase in the invalid clicks that return poor or zero conversions in advertising accounts. This can also be a direct indication that your ad is being clicked.
  • Have you been offered to click fraud competitors? Usually, those who offer a click fraud service call all competing organizations in the same sphere. And if you refuse this offer, then someone might agree. So if you have received calls with such offers, start closely monitoring the statistics, there is a risk that fraud will begin soon.
  • A huge number of transitions to the site with an almost instant exit. 
  • Different geolocation of the “potential client” and ads.
  • Visitor IP addresses are also often repeated.
  • Similar data specific to programs. They can click ads at the same time from the same browser. There is a lot of data that can be used to determine that you are being sabotaged by bots.
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How to prevent click fraud?

There are many services designed specifically to protect the advertising budgets. You can block bots and invalid clicks like when you are working with Google Ads. But Google Ads cannot provide the same filtering system and level of protection.

By tracking hundreds of client PPC campaigns over the years, click fraud detection solutions have compiled an extensive list of IP addresses used by scammers. They have their own lists of bots and fraud farms.

Malicious bots and scammers will be blocked from accessing your advertisements. And this means that your budget will be spent only on real customers.

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What are click fraud detection services?

They can prevent malicious and inappropriate advertising traffic and prevent budget clicks.

What are the features of anti-click fraud services?

  • Advertising monitoring. Systems track all clicks on an ad. At the same time, programs monitor the user’s IP, the device from which the user logged in, location, VPN and much more.
  • Traffic analysis for click fraud. Services evaluate ad clicks by more than ten parameters. Based on this data, you can understand whether the click was untargeted, targeted, or suspicious. All suspicious activity is usually blocked.
  • Blocking clicks from fraudulent sources. Scammer IP addresses are automatically included in the list of excluded IP addresses. As a result, the bot/competitor will not see the ad and will not click on it.

Anti-click fraud services need to be configured. The setup process usually goes like this:

  • You select a package of services and a plan;
  • Register or authorize through Facebook, Google, Linkedin, etc.;
  • Fill in information about the site (domain, name);
  • Create and configure counter service;
  • Install anti-click fraud counter service on the site to record traffic;
  • To set up an anti-click fraud counter service, you need access to Google Analytics and upload a list of counters. After that, the service is granted access to Google Ads, and the list of advertising campaigns is loaded.
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ClickCease service is designed to monitor conversions and analyze each click by several parameters. If the program detects too frequent transitions from one IP, it blocks it as suspicious and closes ads from being shown to a specific user.

The program identifies the user who made the transition using digital fingerprint technology. Each fingerprint contains many unique parameters, such as browser plugin data, Cookies, Javascript storage, HTTP headers, and others. The identification technology allows you to identify the user even when all data is deleted, the browser is changed, and a dynamic IP is applied. Invalid clicks are removed from the report and the advertiser does not have to pay for them.

ClickCease has such features as:

  • Real-time blocking;
  • Click threshold limitations;
  • Visitors analytics;
  • Exclude VPN traffic;
  • Industry-based data;
  • Auto-populate IPs on exclusion list;
  • Fraudulent behavior session recordings.
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PPC Shield


PPC Shield is a click fraud protection SaaS that helps advertisers block malicious and non-converting traffic. Also, the solution will block fraudsters from seeing your ads and stop competitors from depleting your ad budget. PPC Shield will protect you from click farms and click bots. 

The service protects Google Ads campaigns and has such features as:

  • Monitoring and analysis of all clicks in Google Ads campaigns;
  • PPC Shield algorithm allows to identify non-human and fraudulent clicks;
  • Identifies suspicious IPs and instantly blocks them;
  • VIP support with a dedicated account manager;
  • 14 days free trial.

To start a free trial, you just need to sign up, connect your Google Ads account and start your campaign.

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This anti-click fraud software for Google Ads keeps track of everyone who comes to your website by clicking on ads. AppsFlyer is built to hold normal clicks and discard repeated clicks by monitoring traffic. This software uses Google’s click fraud protection technology. In addition, it is currently used by well-known brands. 

Features of AppsFlyer:

  • Provides reliable measurements;
  • Provides stunningly reliable findings from data analysis;
  • Updates data in real-time;
  • Offers extensive functionality;
  • Protects your budget from clicks.
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If you want to get rid of fraud clicks, then Singular is perfect for your business. This service will protect you from click fraud cases in a volatile marketing ecosystem through various methods. Therefore, you will be able to direct your marketing campaign budget to attract real users.

The automatic fraud detection and prevention system implemented in this tool uses certain algorithms that work in real time. 

Singular’s click fraud protection system includes app install verification on Android and iOS, blacklisting of suspicious IP addresses, and click injection prevention on Android. It also uses deterministic methods such as geographic variation and app install time tracking to block fraudulent click attribution.

This tool is specifically designed to detect ad fraud on mobile devices and is always ahead of scammers, even as they improve their techniques. 

The solution has such features as:

  • 50+ fraud detection and prevention methods;
  • Automatic fraud detection and prevention;
  • Personalization of fraud strategy;
  • Full reports that include suspicious, rejected and protected data;
  • Unique industry methods of proprietary detection and prevention.
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ClickGuard is an anti-click fraud software aimed to prevent you from wasting your money on repeated clicks that don’t bring profit to your organization. This is a reliable software that increases the return on PPC advertising. It prevents illegal actions and fraudulent clicks on your website.

Features of ClickGuard:

  • This software can be customized;
  • Functions are easy to access;
  • Removes duplicate clicks;
  • It saves money spent on pay-per-click advertising;
  • Decent customer support;
  • Data analytics and the useful results that it allows you to get.
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Final thoughts

Click fraud is a real problem that exhausts billions of dollars from advertising budgets every year. And the sooner you identify this problem, the less money you will lose. The secret to a timely response is simple: you just need to carefully analyze your advertising costs, and if you detect suspicious activity you need to respond quickly. Contact the technical support of advertising services, block fraudsters on your own or resort to the help of click fraud protection services. 

Adsterra provides advertisers with click fraud protection solutions and anti-fraud solutions. We care about your protection and offer you multilevel security that includes:

  • Prevention of ad fraud;
  • Real-time ad fraud detection;
  • AI-powered algorithms;
  • GEOs and traffic sources’ monitoring;
  • Manual verification of new traffic sources;
  • Inventory blocking after detecting ad fraud. 

With Adsterra you can launch your advertising campaign today, and test all the features of our platform. We provide both publishers and advertisers with the best in industry solutions and services!

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