Whenever you’re surfing the Internet, you can’t help but notice one thing. There are advertisements everywhere. They are a necessary part of the web ecosystem as they help to subsidize the costs of running the website or may even be the core revenue earner for the website operator.
Quite a lot of these advertisements are published on a pay-per-click basis. What this means is that whenever the ad is clicked, the operator of the website displaying the ad (a.k.a. the publisher) gets paid by the advertiser. Bigger websites tend to use the services of an advertising network which acts as the middle man between the publishers and the advertisers.
What is click fraud?
Since the ads are published on a pay-per-click basis, the more clicks the ads garner, the more the publisher earns. With such an easy source of income, sometimes the publisher will be greedy and try to manipulate the system to earn even more. They do this with the help of bots or automated scripts that mimic the human action of clicking on the ads. That is known as click fraud.
How to prevent click fraud?
The advertisers or advertising networks have to analyze the clicks for fraudulent patterns. One of the easier ways is to check the clicks by IP address. If there are multiple clicks from the same IP address within a short period of time, that is a red flag. There is a high chance the clicks are coming from an automated program running on a server somewhere.
But what if the clicks are coming from a click farm? A click farm is basically a large group of lowly paid workers in a poor country who do the actual clicking. Each worker will usually handle multiple devices to perform the clicks. With different IP addresses for each device, it is much harder to trace than the previous scenario. Using the IP2Location database, you can easily filter the IP addresses by country. Then just ignore clicks from any hotspot countries as a quick way to avoid click farms.
Another common tactic used by fraudsters is the use of proxy servers to hide the origins of the clicks. The IP2Proxy database contains information about IP addresses that are being used as proxies. Once you check the IP address and it turns out to be a proxy, you should dismiss any clicks from that IP address.
While the above strategies may not filter out 100% of fraudulent clicks, it should significantly reduce them to the point that your profits will not be severely degraded.