By Kathy Chapman
Bot farms are becoming a real concern for a lot of marketers. This is because they leverage the power of hundreds of thousands or millions of devices and servers to drive fraudulent clicks on ads, thereby decimating advertising budgets or driving clicks that have no value for businesses. To reduce or eliminate fraudulent clicks, marketers should understand what bot farms are and how they may affect their marketing efforts.
Understanding Bot Farms and Click Bots
Contrary to what many people think, bot farms usually consist of networks that involve a lot of computers, devices, and servers, many of which do not know they are part of the network. Once a device becomes infected with malware and becomes part of a bot farm, the malware can run automated scripts that are sent by the main server known as the controller.
This script can cause these devices to deliver fraudulent clicks, thereby unknowingly becoming part of a click bot network.
How Do Click Farms Affect PPC and Businesses?
Invalid clicks that originate from a bot are useless for any business because they do not lead to conversions. This means a business may be spending millions on PPC ads without seeing any conversions or return on investment.
Click bots are so sophisticated that they can mimic human behavior as one of their mechanisms to avoid detection and this is what makes them so worrisome. If you look at traffic data, you may have a hard time differentiating between genuine clicks and those coming from click bots because they may look identical.
Click bots have also been used to finish the AdSense budget of competitors so only the ads for the businesses running the ads are left. This creates an artificial situation where a business sees a decreased footfall even if they continue running ads.
Protecting Yourself from Bot Farms
Before you start putting strategies in place to protect your business from bot farms, it is important to know the signs that you are being targeted. These can include high click-through rates with very low conversions and high bounce rates and spikes in traffic that you cannot explain with very few page visits.
In many cases, you want to block the traffic originating from a single IP address. However, if you are being targeted seriously, it might be hard for you to keep up with all the IP addresses and this is where automated tools come in. Tools like ClickGuard can save your PPC from bot farms by helping you set up rules to protect yourself from clicks coming from fraudulent domains, tracking behavior and blocking parties acting abnormally, and protecting your ads from geolocation targeting.
One can also rely on search engines as they are also getting better at detecting and eliminating suspicious clicks that seem to originate from bot farms.
Bot farms and the fraudulent clicks that result from them are no longer a nuisance and are becoming a bigger concern for a lot of business owners and marketers. It is therefore important that anyone who wants to use PPC or paid ads as part of their marketing strategy learns how to detect clicks coming from bot farms and eliminate them.
Kathy Chapman draws on her extensive experience in the business market to produce insightful articles that will inform leaders from across the corporate landscape.