Microsoft Ads (also known as Bing Ads) is targeted by many click fraud gangs and arbitragers, so it’s important to monitor your ad clicks for fraud, especially if you display your ads on the Audience Network or Search Partners. In this article we explain the basics of click fraud, how to detect click fraud, and how to get click fraud refunds from Microsoft Ads.
What is click fraud?
Let’s imagine you run a website which displays tourist information for your city or region. One of the ways you can monetize this website is through advertising. You contact an ad network like Microsoft Ads, tell them you’re a publisher (you publish information on a website), and ask them for a publisher advertising account. This account lets you display other people’s adverts on your website. Whenever someone clicks on one of these ads, the advertiser pays money to Microsoft Ads, and Microsoft Ads shares this money with you.
Since you’re an honest person, this system works well, and advertisers are happy with the visitors you’re sending to their websites. However, criminals have realized they can earn a fortune by pretending to be legitimate publishers and generating huge amounts of fake clicks on the ads on their scam websites. These fake clicks are known as click fraud, and they cost advertisers over USD 100 billion every year.
To learn more about click fraud, you can read our article What is click fraud?
How to detect click fraud?
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to ask this question, and we could trust the ad networks to detect and block click fraud for us. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and you need to verify your ad spend isn’t being wasted on fake clicks.
Detecting click fraud requires a real understanding of how criminals generate fake clicks, and the steps they take to avoid detection. As an example, a common technique used by click fraud gangs is to create a bot (software) using a tool called “Puppeteer Extra”, and programming it to visit their websites to click on the ads. Puppeteer Extra is designed to simulate a human, and it goes through great lengths to hide the fact it’s a piece of software running on a server. To further disguise the click fraud scam, the criminals route the bot through anonymous residential proxies (using a service such as Bright Data), causing the bot to further resemble a genuine internet user browsing the internet from home.
Figuring out how to detect the above scenario is challenging, and most advertisers don’t have the skills and resources to build their own click fraud detection software. It’s much simpler (and cheaper!) to use a click fraud detection service like Polygraph to do the heavy lifting for you. Polygraph tell you which of your ad clicks are fraudulent, why they’re fraudulent, when the click happened, and who did it. Polygraph also tell you which of your ad keywords are being targeted by criminals, so you can remove them from your ad campaigns to avoid further click fraud.
It's important you don’t solely rely on Microsoft Ads to protect you from click fraud. Microsoft Ads are the network of choice for click fraudsters, and part of the reason for this is their less than ideal click fraud detection abilities. We’re not saying Microsoft Ads are turning a blind eye to click fraud, however they could be doing a better job. By monitoring your ad clicks using Polygraph, you can have peace of mind your marketing budget is being protected.
How to get click fraud refunds from Microsoft Ads?
Microsoft Ads need to know the dates and times of the fake clicks, why you think the clicks are fraudulent, and the IP addresses associated with the fraud. You should also include the IDs of the affected campaigns, and which of your ad keywords were targeted.
Polygraph automatically generates this information for you, downloadable as a CSV, making it simple for you to request a refund.
You can submit your refund request through Microsoft Ads’ online chat support at https://about.ads.microsoft.com/gl-ob/microsoft-advertising-support
It's not difficult to get click fraud refunds from Microsoft Ads, as long as you have supporting evidence for your claims.
By using a click fraud detection service like Polygraph, you can easily prove which clicks are fake, and get Microsoft Ads to refund your wasted ad spend.