Blog

Beware of no-cost conversions

May 24, 2024
5 min read

Scammers are increasingly using no-cost conversions to mask fake ad clicks, draining advertisers' budgets and deceiving ad networks into thinking bot clicks are from real users.

What is Click Fraud?

Click fraud is a crime that costs advertisers billions of dollars each year. It involves scammers exploiting the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising model to monetize their websites. Instead of waiting for genuine users to click on their ads, they deploy bots, resulting in millions of fake ad clicks daily.

Our data indicates that at least 5% of ad clicks are fraudulent, a number that skyrockets to around 80% in high-value sectors like e-commerce, finance, medical, and legal.

How Click Fraud Works:

  1. Setup: A scammer with in-depth knowledge of the PPC system creates a website and sets up a publisher advertising account with networks like Google Ads or Microsoft Ads. This account enables them to place other companies' ads on their website.
  2. Bot deployment: Instead of waiting for real traffic, the scammer programs a bot to click on the ads. Using sophisticated tools like puppeteer-extra with a stealth plugin, residential proxies, and device fingerprint randomization, the bot mimics real human behavior. This deception ensures it often goes undetected by ad networks. However, experts like Polygraph can detect even the most advanced click fraud bots.
  3. Generating fake conversions: To enhance the illusion of real traffic, the bot sometimes completes no-cost conversions on the advertiser's site, such as submitting lead forms, creating accounts, or adding items to a shopping cart. These fake conversions trick ad networks into believing real people are interacting with the ads, wasting advertisers' time and resources as they pursue these false leads.
  4. Monetizing fake clicks: Due to inadequate click fraud detection by ad networks, most fake clicks go unnoticed, and advertisers are charged for them. The revenue is split between the ad networks and scammers, often 50/50. Polygraph monitors numerous click fraud scammers, some of whom earn over USD 1M per month per website, with many running multiple fraudulent sites.

Variations of this scam include retargeting click fraud, where bots repeatedly click on ads from the same advertiser to maximize the scammer's earnings.

What is Conversion Fraud?

Conversion fraud occurs when click fraudsters use bots to generate fake actions, like submitting fake leads or creating accounts, on advertisers' websites. This tactic helps scammers avoid detection by making their traffic appear more legitimate to ad networks, which may otherwise flag low-quality traffic and suspend their accounts.

Why Do Bots Target No-Cost Conversions?

Bots typically target no-cost conversions, such as submitting fake leads, because these actions are easy to fake and don't require maintaining valid credit cards. By using real people's information, the scammers ensure that the advertiser's follow-up attempts lead to confusion or unreturned contacts. This method is cost-effective and less complex than generating paid conversions like purchases or subscriptions.

Why Aren't Advertising Networks Detecting Click and Conversion Fraud?

The inability of advertising networks to detect click and conversion fraud effectively is a significant issue. Smaller companies like Tapper can detect most click fraud, yet larger ad networks struggle. This might be due to a conflict of interest, as networks profit from every click, whether real or fake. More likely, it is due to a lack of effort and care in fraud detection and prevention.

How Do I Prevent Conversion Fraud?

To prevent conversion fraud, you need to tackle click fraud first. Tapper provides comprehensive tools to detect and prevent click fraud:

  • Identify targeted keywords: Tapper reveals which ad keywords are targeted by click fraud bots so you can remove them from your campaigns, preventing bots from seeing or clicking on your ads.
  • Block scam websites: Tapper identifies scam display websites clicking on your ads, allowing you to block them from interacting with your ads.
  • Granular click details: Tapper offers detailed information on every fake click, including why it's considered fake, enabling you to apply for click fraud refunds from your advertising network.

Conclusion

Click fraud scammers generate fake conversions to make their bot traffic appear legitimate, using no-cost conversions like lead submissions for simplicity. Preventing conversion fraud requires addressing click fraud first. Tapper provides the tools needed to detect and prevent click fraud effectively. Try Tapper today to safeguard your ad spend and improve the integrity of your marketing efforts sign up for a free 14-day trial.

Convert wasted ad spend into revenue growth

It’s time to stop paying for clicks that will never convert. Make your marketing budget go further by eliminating waste from your campaigns.