Is it worth it to use a click fraud detection service?

July 20, 2023 ∙ 3 minute read

In this article we look at the costs associated with ignoring click fraud, and show - using real-world click fraud data - that Polygraph pays for itself many times over.

What is click fraud?

First, let’s make sure we have a common understanding of the click fraud process. It frequently goes like this:

  1. A scammer creates a website and opens a publisher account at an ad network like Google Ads. The publisher account allows the scammer to display other companies’ ads on his website.
  2. He creates a click fraud bot using a bot framework like puppeteer-extra, and signs up to a residential proxy service so the bot’s traffic will be routed through random residential IP addresses. This ensures the bot has a clean, normal-looking IP address every time it clicks on an ad.
  3. The scammer gives the bot a list of ad keywords, such as “electrician”, “finance”, “ecommerce”, “fertilizer”, and “dentist”, and tens of thousands more. The bot is programmed to search for each of these keywords using Google Search, click on the results in the first page, including the ads and search results, and visit each website. This causes the bot to get “cookied” by Google, which means when the bot visits the scammer’s website, it’ll be “retargeted” by Google, which means it’ll be shown ads for the websites it visited. It can then click on these ads, earning money for the scammer, and ripping off advertisers.
  4. The bot repeats the scam all day every day, resulting in massive earnings for the scammer, and huge losses for advertisers. As an example, we recently shut down a click fraud scammer who was earning over $10 million from click fraud every month.

Click fraud is a highly lucrative scam, stealing at least $30 billion from advertisers every year.

Which industries are most affected by click fraud?

Using our click fraud detection data, we’ve created a table containing the top 20 industries affected by click fraud. To remove potential bias, since a lot of our data comes from customers experiencing high amounts of click fraud, we’ve added a fractional weighting of 20%, which means we’ve reduced the amount of click fraud per industry by 80%. Even with this large reduction, the amount of click fraud remains unacceptably high.

Pay attention to the “Loss per 1,000 clicks” column. This is the average financial loss, per industry, due to click fraud, for every 1,000 ad clicks. For example, if you’re in the Home Services industry (plumbing, carpentry, etc.), expect click fraud to cost you $4,432 every 1,000 ad clicks.


Industry Average Click Fraud Rate Average Cost per Click Loss per 1,000 ad clicks
Home Services 12% $36.93 $4,432
Energy 15% $21.36 $3,204
Fashion 14% $13.85 $1,939
Gambling 15% $11.74 $1,761
Agricultural 16% $10.82 $1,731
Insurance 11% $12.16 $1,338
Banking 11% $12.00 $1,320
Health 13% $8.61 $1,119
Water 12% $7.96 $955
Telecom 14% $6.34 $888
Automotive 15% $5.47 $821
Engineering 11% $6.89 $758
Green 14% $4.62 $647
Hospitality 13% $4.62 $601
Chemical 12% $4.64 $557
Leisure 15% $3.75 $563
Real estate 14% $3.88 $543
Dating 17% $3.15 $536
Textile 14% $3.55 $497
Travel 14% $2.61 $365


As you can see from the above table, you may be throwing away thousands of dollars every month due to click fraud. Simply log into your account at your ad network and look at how many clicks you paid for last month. If it’s in the thousands, then you should use Polygraph to solve your click fraud problem.

How does Polygraph prevent click fraud?

At Polygraph we monitor the activities of click fraud gangs, so our detection methods are based on real-world click fraud techniques. We’re able to identify the servers, bots, and tricks used by fraudsters, and we only flag traffic as invalid if it’s objectively fake.

The first thing we do is identify the fake clicks. This tells us which of your ad keywords are being targeted by fraudsters, where the clicks are coming from, and which click fraud techniques were used to click on your ads.

Since click fraud isn’t random, and instead targets specific ad keywords, we’ll quantify the number of fake clicks on your ad keywords, so you can then choose to remove the ad keywords from your campaigns (add them as negative keywords), or keep the ad keywords, but price the fraud into your product. If you choose the latter, which can sometimes be unavoidable if the ad keywords are your main product keywords, at least you can now quantify exactly how much money you’re losing to click fraud, and adjust your pricing models accordingly.

If we’re able to identify the scammers’ websites which are clicking on your ads, you can add these websites to your placement exclusions list, which blocks them from being allowed display or click on your ads.

Finally, since we give you granular details of every fake click (including why the click is fraudulent), you can send this data to your ad network, and request a click fraud refund.

You may have noticed we don’t do IP address blocking. That’s because IP address blocking is a gimmick, and you should avoid any click fraud detection services which rely on gimmicks to sell their services. You can read more about this in our article Why blocking IP addresses won't protect your ads from click fraud.

Should I use Polygraph to prevent click fraud?

It’s likely you’re losing hundreds or thousands of dollars every month due to click fraud. By using Polygraph to monitor which of your ad keywords are being targeted by click fraudsters, taking action to remove those keywords from your campaigns, and blocking the scammers' websites from being allowed display your ads, you will greatly reduce your exposure to click fraud, and increase your monthly return on ad spend (ROAS).

As an example, if you’re in the home services industry, and paying for 10,000 ad clicks every month, you’re likely losing $44,320 every month due to click fraud. By using Polygraph to monitor 10,000 ad clicks ($50 per month), you’ll greatly reduce the amount of money being wasted on click fraud, and Polygraph will pay for itself many times over.


It’s likely you’re losing hundreds or thousands of dollars every month due to click fraud. By ignoring the problem, you’re throwing away money and enriching scammers. Polygraph makes it easy to avoid click fraud, pays for itself many times over, and ensures you increase your ROAS and hit your KPIs.

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