Everyone knows that advertising fraud is a major problem in the digital marketplace. While the bulk of ad fraud is of the type where someone is displaying ads to a bot in order to make money, there is another type that might be even more of a concern to many marketers.
According to a recent article from KrebsonSecurity, there is a growing trend where shady hackers will offer their services to companies. The services involve having a competitor’s ads clicked on multiple times each day in order to burn through their budget. This is especially effective when targeting a company that uses AdWords to drive traffic.
One person who offers this service markets them by saying, “Are you tired of the competition in Google AdWords that take your first position and quality traffic? I will help you get rid once and for all competitors in Google AdWords.”
Those who hire him will tell him which keywords they want to target, and which companies are advertising for that keyword. The individual will then likely use a botnet to perform the related searches, and click on the ad that pops up. Depending on the size of the budget, it may take only a couple dozen clicks to burn through the daily limit.
In the event that the company doesn’t have a daily ad limit set, it could cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fraudulent clicks. This is just one more reason why everyone who uses AdWords or a similar service should always have a daily budget set.
While Google attempts to weed out fraudulent clicks like this, there is often very little that can be done because most of this type of fraud doesn’t require that many clicks. It is easy for a hacker to build a botnet with a few hundred computers in it, and then use it to perform legitimate looking searches and clicks.