How to block click fraud websites?

October 6, 2022 ∙ 4 minute read

Criminals are displaying your ads on scam websites and stealing your marketing budget. This short article explains what is click fraud, tells you how to find which websites are generating fake clicks on your ads, and gives step by step instructions to block click fraud websites from being able to display or click on your ads.

What is click fraud?

Click fraud is an online scam which steals tens of billions of dollars from advertisers each year. It works like this:

  1. Criminals create legitimate looking websites, and apply for publisher advertising accounts at advertising networks like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. These publisher advertising accounts allow the scammers to place real advertisements on their websites, with small fees earned every time visitors click on the ads.
  2. Rather than wait for real visitors to click on the ads, the criminals hire bot programmers to create bots which will visit their scam websites and click on the ads. The bot programmers use software like Puppeteer Extra to create their bots, install stealth plugins like puppeteer-extra-plugin-stealth so their bots look like real people, and route their bots' traffic through residential proxy services like Bright Data to ensure their bots use different IP addresses every time they visit a website and click on an ad.
  3. To further hide the fact the clicks are fraudulent, the bots try to generate fake conversions at the advertisers’ websites. Read our article What is conversion fraud? to learn more about this problem.
  4. For every fake click, the advertisers pay money to the ad networks, and the ad networks share the money with the criminals.

There are thousands of scam websites generating millions of fake clicks each day.

What is a click fraud website?

For the click fraud scam to work, the criminals need to create websites, and monetize the content using publisher advertising accounts. These publisher advertising accounts enable the scammers to join the Google Display Network, the Microsoft Audience Network, and other audience networks such as those run by Facebook and Twitter.

As far as the advertising networks are concerned, click fraud websites are legitimate websites, until they eventually get caught and closed down. Polygraph is aware of many click fraud websites which have been operating for years.

How to detect click fraud websites?

The key to detecting click fraud websites is to detect their fake clicks. Polygraph specializes in detecting click fraud, and our click fraud detection system is superior to those used by the advertising networks.

Polygraph looks at every ad click to see if it was generated through trickery or technology, including the most cutting edge click fraud bots, and is able to use this data to determine the source of the fake clicks. That means when a scammer uses a bot to generate fake clicks on your ads, Polygraph is able to (1) detect the fake clicks and (2) see which websites are responsible for the click fraud.

Try Polygraph today, free of charge, to start protecting your ads from click fraud.

How to block click fraud websites?

Polygraph tells you which websites are generating fake clicks on your ads. You can use this data to block click fraud websites from displaying or clicking on your ads.

If you're advertising on Google Ads, and you want to block a number of click fraud websites, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Select the click fraud websites from the Sources section of your Polygraph account.
  2. Open your Google Ads account and click on Tools And Settings.
  3. Click on Placement exclusions lists.
  4. Click Create list.
  5. Type the name of the list in the List name textbox.
  6. Click the Enter tab.
  7. Paste the list of click fraud websites into the Enter placements URLs textbox, and click Add placements.
  8. Click Save.
  9. Finally, you need to apply the list to your ad campaigns. Select the checkbox next to the placement exclusions list you just created, click Apply to campaigns, select all of your campaigns, and click Apply.

Your ads will no longer appear on the click fraud websites you added to the placement exclusions list. You can edit the list as often as you want, ensuring no click fraud websites are able to click on your ads.

If you're advertising on Microsoft Ads, and you want to block a number of click fraud websites, follow the steps below:

  1. Select the click fraud websites from the Sources section of your Polygraph account.
  2. Open your Microsoft Ads account and ensure you're signed in as the manager account. You can switch to the manager account by clicking the drop down list at the top of the screen and selecting the manager account (it'll be the first account in the hierarchy of accounts).
  3. Click Tools.
  4. Click Website exclusions lists.
  5. Click Create.
  6. Type the name of the list in the List name textbox.
  7. Paste the list of click fraud websites into the Website exclusions textbox.
  8. Click Save.
  9. Finally, you need to apply the list to your ad campaigns. Select the checkbox next to the website exclusions list you just created, click Add to accounts, and click Add all.
  10. Click Save.

Your ads will no longer appear on the click fraud websites you added to the websites exclusions list, and you can update the list with new click fraud websites to ensure no scammers are able to click on your ads.

Conclusion

Blocking click fraud websites from displaying or clicking on your ads is easy. Simply use Polygraph to detect the websites responsible for the fake clicks, and add those websites to your advertising network's website placement exclusions list.

Try Polygraph today, free of charge, and protect your marketing budget from click fraud.