Marketing is hard enough when there are no set rules. But when click fraud muddies the waters, marketers find themselves struggling to stay afloat.
Click fraud is an insidious practice that has been a thorn in the sides of digital marketers for years.
Click farms in countries like Russia and India hire workers to click on ads repeatedly, gaming the system and creating false data that dupes advertisers and ad companies alike. Many click farms don’t involve humans at all.
Instead, click farms use software scripts to generate thousands of illegitimate clicks.
Some operations take these bad deeds a step further and enter false information into forms on websites. For B2B companies with long sales cycles, this type of fraud is particularly harmful.
Salespeople waste their time trying to contact nonexistent prospects while marketers are frustrated that they have to account for garbage leads in their ROI reports. This forces marketers to rejustify continued investment and experiments. Great campaigns have been cancelled because fake leads and form fills skewed conversion metrics.
When campaigns are abandoned, marketers have a hard time delivering results. Instead of growing their customer base and providing a return on investment, marketers often find themselves losing money because of click fraud.
Research published by leading advertising and verification agencies found that advertisers were robbed north of $16 billion from fraudulent online activity in 2017. With more opportunities to cause mayhem in 2018, that number will continue to increase unless companies act quickly.
Fortunately, legitimate businesses have a new secret weapon that mitigates fraud: AI-powered conversation bots.
Click Fraud Plagues Digital Marketing
Remember the old saying, “Crime doesn’t pay?” Well, in the case of click fraud, that isn’t entirely accurate. One security firm, White Ops, busted a group of Russian criminals who were making up to $5 million per day from fraudulent click practices.
The fraudsters in this case were slick. According to White Ops, the Russians owned more than a quarter million URLs, most of which were designed to mimic those of large and trusted brands.
The websites, however, were blank — except for the space they left for video ads. The Russians tricked marketing algorithms into thinking that they were placing ads on legitimate pages, when in truth, they were advertising to no one.
They made the ads appear legitimate, faking clicks on their fake websites. Many even had fake social media accounts to provide social proof of existence.
Many digital fraud schemes are nowhere near this ambitious. However, this now-defunct Russian operation is far from the only instance of online deception.
But thanks to the latest advances in AI and machine learning, conversation bots are effectively protecting the integrity of marketing tech stacks and lead pipelines.
How Conversation Bots Stop Click Fraud
Conversation bots can’t completely stop fraud bots from clicking. But they will definitely prevent companies from treating illegitimate activity such as authentic human intent.
B2B marketers rely on gated content to identify and qualify leads for sales teams. Advanced fraudsters, like the Russians busted by White Ops, use fraud bots and human workers to fill out forms using fraudulent information.
Static forms can’t tell the difference between legitimate interest and fraud — but conversation bots will.
AI-powered conversation bots don’t blindly accept information. Instead, they engage with website users to discern their interests, guide interactions, and collect information along the way.
These capabilities allow conversation bots to qualify leads for salespeople and empower them to have more productive conversations with prospects. If click fraudsters attempt to fool conversation bots, they will be blocked.
Conversation bots also enable marketers to analyze the success of their campaigns without worrying about the integrity of their data. While humans can’t process thousands of data points at once, AI-powered conversation bots will.
They will be programmed to block fraudulent activity and auto sort data related to it.
With artificial intelligence and machine learning, conversation bots will detect and exclude fake leads before they contaminate a marketer’s CRM. As a result, marketers will save a substantial amounts of time while analyzing campaign success because they won’t have to discern whether their leads are legitimate.
Conversation bots make the lead acquisition and qualification process more innovative and enjoyable. By reducing the friction in the first touch point in the lead generation pipeline, conversation bots will generate more real leads for businesses, while protecting them from fraud.
Click fraud may continue to plague digital advertising for years to come, but savvy companies will mitigate that risk. By investing in AI-powered conversation bots, businesses will preserve the integrity of their data by blocking fraud farms’ entries, which will enable marketers to stop wasting time on fraud and focus on imagining new ways to start customer relationships.