Business development · 16 February 2018

Ever heard of click fraud? Here are the worst offenders

Click fraud
Competitors could be targeting your ads and committing click fraud

New research has revealed which businesses are most at risk from click fraud – the malicious targeting of online ads by competitors.

Locksmiths, cleaning companies and investments organisations are most likely to be targeted by “bandits” committing click fraud, Click Guardian has found.

Small businesses, the click fraud prevention service said, are wasting thousands of pounds a month on pay-per-click ads that are rendered useful by “spiteful competitors”.

Roy Dovaston, manning director at Click Guardian, said: “It’s a jungle out there and with cut-throat competition comes some pretty sharp tactics.

“It’s incredible how much advertising spend click fraudsters can eat through, and the more mainstream the search items, the quicker a marketing budget can be sent down the drain.”

Here are the ten businesses types most at risk from click fraud

Trade Percentage of clicks that are fraudulent Average cost per click
Locksmith 40 per cent £7
Cleaning companies 25 per cent £3.50
Investments 16 per cent £7.50
Security 16 per cent £3.50
Phone repairs 15 per cent £3.50
Pest control 14 per cent £7
Windows/doors/conservatories 14 per cent £5
Wrong fuel 13 per cent £7
Glazing 13 per cent £5
Man and van 12 per cent £3.50


There are a number of ways to prevent click fraud, including setting different bid prices for content-targeted sites, keeping an eye on competitors and tracking ad campaigns in real time. Small businesses can also specifically target high-value sites for ads, steering clear of low-quality sites where “click bandits” most commonly reside, and purchase software designed to generate special referral reports.

Dovaston added: “The real concern is how much this is costing businesses, and especially those that can ill-afford to see a marketing budget squandered in the first place.

“It’s crucial businesses use real-time prevention systems that can track and block imposters so real customers get to see paid ads.”

Click Guardian suggests around £2,000 worth of adverts posted by locksmiths are disappearing each month before customers have the chance to see them. For cleaning companies, security firms and phone repair businesses, each burn a quarter of monthly marketing budgets on adverts never seen by potential customers.


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Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Business Advice. He is also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative. Prior to his role at Real Business, he was editor at competitor website Growth Business and head reporter at M&A Deals. Throughout his career he has interviewed leading entrepreneurs including Alex Chesterman, Lopo Champalimaud, Sarah Wood, James Averdeick and Alex Saint.


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