Payday loan companies become the top victim of click fraud as it eats up online marketing budgets and renders the efforts of advertisers futile; according to the latest research of the German click fraud detection firm Polygraph.
Some advertisers are inadvertently wasting the majority of their online marketing budgets by falling victim to click fraud. It’s a growing menace for all online businesses, although some are more at risk than others – with payday loan companies rapidly becoming the premier target for click fraudsters.
Click fraud is committed by displaying genuine adverts, using the most in-demand and highest-value keywords on fake websites.
As publishers receive money every time an ad is clicked, criminal gangs have recognised that by creating websites to display adverts, acting as legitimate publisher accounts, they can choose which ads are displayed and how many times they are clicked.
By using technology and trickery they can force large numbers of web traffic to click on the genuinely-placed ads, meaning the fraudsters earn a fee with each click.
Aided by experience gained through previous fraudulent behaviour, the scammers are now able to bypass methods which have been created to prevent more commonly known forms of online fraud. This means click fraud has evolved into an easy, yet profitable way to make millions at the expense of advertisers.
Because the fraudsters are using genuine clicks and methods which many advertising platforms are not yet able to detect, the click fraud gangs are seeing high levels of success.
Payday loan companies were found to be one of the targets most at risk from this type of fraud, with the threat against them growing.
According to Trey Vanes, Polygraph’s chief marketing officer, cyber-criminals target payday loan ads due to their high pay-out: “The fraudsters research which ad keywords pay the most per click, and use those keywords to force high paying ads to appear on their scam websites. Since the criminals are all targeting the most lucrative keywords, it has created a situation where thousands of click fraud gangs are targeting payday loan ads.”
By displaying adverts based on the most popular payday loan-related keywords, criminal gangs are diverting huge sums of money away from the advertisers and taking it as profit for themselves.
As they infiltrate genuine internet searches, using real clicks by innocent, unsuspecting, website visitors, the scammers are benefitting from money others have spent on their legitimate online advertising campaigns. The fraudsters are understood to be making millions of pounds illegally through this scam, and that figure will continue to grow unless more is done to tackle the crime.
As up to 80 per cent of genuine advertisers’ customer clicks are now understood to be fake in some circumstances, particularly within the payday loan sector, genuine advertising budgets are being destroyed because of the huge numbers of fake clicks driven by click fraud.
Confounding the problem is the fact that many ad networks fail to detect these fake clicks, resulting in the advertisers footing the bill for their pilfered ad campaigns.
Polygraph has cited its own solutions as being an effective form of click fraud detection, taking the task out of the hands of advertising networks and publishers. Its methods have been created through monitoring the activities of cyber-criminals, using their own playbook built on inside information explaining how the click fraud is committed.
Polygraph can monitor which keywords are most at risk, and help protect advertisers’ budgets from click fraud.
By detecting fraud risks before it happens, Polygraph is capable of alerting advertisers on which of their keywords are likely to be targeted, which networks are sending them the most click fraud, provide evidence of the fake clicks so the advertisers can claim refunds from the networks, and then block bots from seeing their ads.
“This problem won’t go away on its own, and it’s a high-risk strategy to hope the ad networks will protect you,” added Vanes.
“The reality is we have customers who were wasting most of their ad budgets on click fraud. By taking action and using an independent click fraud detection service to protect them from fake clicks, they now have effective advertising campaigns and don’t need to worry about being ripped off by criminals.”