What do fine dining and the number of clicks on your ad campaign have in common? Quite a lot, it turns out, but only for the marketing gourmands out there who can tell the difference.
For every $3 spent on digital ads, $1 is lost to ad fraud. Therefore, according to Dr. Augustine Fou, a renowned independent ad fraud researcher, you should “analyze your clicks to make sure you are getting the “wagyu of clicks” – clicks from real humans”. Dr. Fou adds that you don’t even need a lot of them. You just need clicks that convert.
Intrigued? Check out our summary of valuable insights on this important topic:
- Beware of bots and fake traffic. Dr. Fou’s research at FouAnalytics has been dedicated to identifying and disclosing fake clicks on ad campaigns. In a recent article, he points out that the number of clicks on programmatic campaigns is not necessarily an indicator of success but rather a result of a fraudulent activity. In his words, one should ask if the millions of clicks and very high click through rates were from humans and if the humans go on to buy your product or service after clicking on your ads. According to his research, 96 – 99% of those clicks were bots clicking on your ads and not your ads performing better due to better targeting.
- Clicks reported by platforms vs. clicks on landing pages. According to information on the Business of Apps website, a whitepaper published by Google reveals that the biggest names are by no means invulnerable from online ad fraud. Indeed, in October 2018, Buzzfeed News also revealed the existence of a massive ad fraud scheme which managed to steal nearly $10 million from Google’s ad networks. This operation used more than 125 Android apps and websites, which tracked and mimicked human behaviour in order to evade detection.
According to Dr. Fou, many marketers have also noticed discrepancies between the clicks reported by their programmatic ad platforms and the clicks that arrived on their landing pages, as recorded by their site analytics. Sometimes these discrepancies are 90% or higher — that is, the programmatic campaign reported 100 clicks, but Google Analytics only reported 10 clicks that arrived on the site. Google Analytics filters some bots but it does not tell you which bots they were and how much was filtered. So you are left with a discrepancy you cannot explain. The fact that Google Analytics filtered the clicks from bots meant the bots were so simple and obvious that even Google Analytics could determine it was fraudulent and thus filter them out.
- Remember: bots don’t convert. The scale of ad fraud is truly vast. The total cost of ad fraud in 2022 – $81 billion, is predicted to increase to $100 billion by 2023. It is estimated that about 43% of traffic is invalid traffic (Forbes). The issue is so serious that 37% of advertisers surveyed are ready to pay a premium of 11% or more for certified human traffic (invesp). A key aspect Dr. Fou points out is that bots might click through on your ads and arrive on your site, but they may do nothing on the site (because they were not paid to do so). You will see this in your analytics as low time on site, high bounce rate, or low pages per visit. If you didn’t know the clicks were bots, and you were just counting the clicks or click through rates, you would think these campaigns are performing really well. In fact, you may even allocate more budget to these paid channels because you THINK it is working so well. This is why you need the details to check whether it was a bot or human that clicked.
- Optimize towards humans. 69% of brands spending $1 million per month report a 20% loss of their budgets to ad fraud (eMarketer). The topic is quite sensitive and we have previously emphasized the importance of optimizing for human attention as a way to avoid ad fraud (for a quick refresh, revisit our bites here and here). A crucial step to make in the right direction? Shift from CPC to CPHC – Cost Per Human Click, i.e. pay only for the impressions that are actually seen by human eyes. Ask for impressions shown to humans. Instead of just CPM, ask for hCPM – i.e., which clicks were humans. Instead of a CPC, calculate your own hCPC. Instead of % invalid traffic, ask for % humans. Once you focus on humans, you can not only optimize away from invalid traffic and fraud, you can also optimize towards humans.
Back in 2016, the World Federation of Advertisers predicted that, within a decade, ad fraud and other fake internet traffic schemes would become the second-biggest market for organized crime after the drugs trade. As Dr. Fou remarkably wraps it up: “Farmers, don’t just count your cows as they come home. Advertisers, don’t just count your clicks as they come to your site… Optimize towards humans and away from bots.” We would add, be a connoisseur and make sure your hard-earned ad budget is not wasted on a dubious meal made of fake ingredients.
Novelty Media, via SmartAdd, has developed a mobile media technology framework offering video and static content delivery to mobile subscribers. Unlike other measurement vendors, we can tell you the exact percentage of your ads that were shown to humans. That’s because 100% of our impressions are delivered to real humans – verified mobile network subscribers, – hence the clicks you get are clicks by humans on the actual click-through URL. Endorsed by Mobile Operators, our media channel delivers your brand content solely to a verifiable audience, hence no chance of ad fraud. Eliminate bot interactions completely – reach out to us and find out how our solution can help you win every time.