PPC fraud costs businesses a lot of money per year. By some estimates, businesses are losing up to 20% of their advertising budgets to bot farms. But what are these bots, and how do they cost businesses so much money?
Bots: An Overview
Bots are automated programs that are used to perform tasks at a rate that humans cannot. They have been used in many different ways online, including to scrape data from a website so that it can get ranked for finding contact information for thousands of people online. Although this shows why these bots are useful, there are some massive downsides in the form of malicious use.
Because they can perform repetitive tasks continuously, bots are being used in click and ad fraud. These bots click on your links and ads until your budget runs out, or make keywords so competitive, therefore more expensive, that you are unable to pay for them. The effects of both of these things are that people no longer see your ads and links, which decreases the number of visitors you get, thereby decreasing your profits.
Are You Being Targeted?
The answer to this question lies in your analytics. Certain metrics will tell you if you are being targeted. They include:
- Bounce rate – This is the percentage of visitors who spend very little time on your website or who visit one page and go no further. Bots often visit the page your links and ads point to which means a high bounce rate might signify that you are being targeted by bots.
- Pageviews – conservatively, people will visit about 3-5 pages on your website before leaving. High page views from single users might indicate you have a bot problem. In some cases, bots have been known to visit up to 60 pages which most humans cannot do in one session.
- Slower page loads – If you have not made any changes to your website, you might be getting some attention from bot farms which increases the number of visitors significantly.
- Average load times – Most bots have a 2-second average page visit time.
How Much Are These Bot Farms Costing Your Business?
The answer is, it depends on how much you spend on ads and your industry. For most industries, the amount lost is between 1 and 20%. This can translate to anything from a thousand to 50 thousand euros a month or more. If you look at an industry such as the online gaming industry which regularly spends hundreds of thousands of euros a month on ads, you can begin to see why these bot farms are so lucrative.
What Can You Do About It?
One of the best ways to protect yourself, in addition to the monitoring discussed above, is to identify where these fraudulent clicks are coming from so you can eliminate worthless clicks to your ad campaign. Tools like ClickGUARD help you identify your sources of fraudulent traffic so you can deal with it. These sources include bot farms, competitors, the dark web, malicious third-parties, blackhat sources and so much more. By eliminating these fraudulent clicks, ClickGUARD can help your advertising budget do so much more.
Bot farms are a nuisance that all businesses should be aware of and take steps to stop. They can cost your business a lot of money or make your advertising campaigns worthless.