As more businesses go online and compete for the same customers, PPC ads seem like the best way to capture users and direct them to their websites. This is because when users see highly targeted and personalised PPC ads for products and services they are interested in, they are much more likely to click on those ads and purchase the products and services. However, some businesses do not want to compete fairly in this way and this is why click fraud is becoming a problem.
What Is Click Fraud?
Before we look at whether click fraud is illegal or not and what can be done about it, we need to look at what click fraud is exactly. Click fraud is any type of invalid click on a link, with malicious intent. In many cases, click fraud is perpetrated by people who want to drain their competitors’ advertising budgets. They know that if they do this successfully, their competitors will not have any funds left to run their advertising campaigns. This would leave the field open to only them. This article from ClickGUARD answers the question, “What is click fraud?” in more detail, and they also provide tips on how to prevent it from happening to you.
What Are the Sources of Fraudulent Clicks?
These sources often include bots, infected computers and servers as well as real people clicking on ads with no intention of interacting with the website the ads lead to. It is important to remember that these sources of malicious clicks will continue to become more sophisticated and varied and this is why it is important to identify these new sources as they emerge.
Tools like the abovementioned ClickGUARD are very effective at identifying the sources of these malicious clicks thereby stopping click fraud before it happens. They monitor your ads to identify threats to your links and ads, thereby getting rid of wasteful clicks. This ensures your website receives quality clicks from real people who are likely to convert.
Is Click Fraud Illegal?
Click fraud is considered illegal in many parts of the world. Many people do not know that clicking on people’s ads with malicious intent is illegal, but it is. Because of how much money is lost and how many businesses are decimated due to click fraud, it should be stopped before it even begins.
It is important to remember that most countries do not have specific laws about click fraud, but people have been jailed due to click fraud and this is why it is considered illegal. In many cases, laws that cover cybersecurity, wire fraud, deception, data theft and money laundering have been used to prosecute these cases.
By its very nature of being one of the most progressive regions for digital rights, the European Union has some of the strictest laws against fraud. Law experts think that with the data protections afforded by the enacted GDPR laws and these anti-fraud measures, it could form a legal basis for these cases.
Many countries have some form of protection against ‘computer fraud’ but what that means depends on the context, the country in question, as well as the evidence law enforcement officers can gather.
Click fraud is one of the worst things that could happen to digital and online advertising. It robs businesses of precious advertisement funds, it prevents consumers from finding the right websites, products and services and it wastes everyone’s time. It is time that countries came up with comprehensive click fraud laws to cover this one specific area.