Since Google introduced its AdWords service in 2000, many business owners have been guilty of forcing an unnatural number of clicks onto rival campaigns in an attempt to increase the costs of the ads.
Each click increases the cost of the campaign, thus eating into the competitor’s advertising budget.
Here, Roy Dovaston, operations lead at click fraud prevention service Click Guardian, outlines three reasons why clicking your competitors’ AdWords campaigns will backfire, and offers more constructive alternatives.
When Google AdWords emerged in October 2000, this indisputably changed the platform of online marketing forever, significantly extending potential client reach for prosperous businesses – all at the click of a button.
Eighteen years later, this remains to be an integral part of many business’ marketing activity – acting as a critical channel for easily accessible, rapid financial development.
However, whilst many organisations across the globe continue to persistently reap the rewards of utilising AdWords’ pay per click service, there remains to be a significant number of individuals and large-scale corporations alike who are willing to exploit this network for less genuine, constructive purposes.
Following a Guardian investigation in 2013, it was found that notorious “click farms” staffed by teams of low paid workers in vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh, relentlessly click on GoogleAds to deplete a company’s daily advertising budget.
This form of exploitation is more commonly recognised in the form of fake Facebook likes, YouTube views and Twitter followers – however, the degradation of GoogleAds’ productivity is equally common.
Whilst click farms seemingly spark concern for a magnitude of business owners reliant upon sales, endorsed by the ease of GoogleAds, it unfortunately appears that threats to their success also lie much closer to home.
Many business owners, easily frustrated when faced with successful competitors, may be tempted to click on their competitors’ ads with similar goals in mind. Such business owners may be appalled by the criminality inherent in click farms, but not fully comprehending the parallel nature of their own actions.
Whether or not a business owner utilises the services of click farms, or manually clicks on competitors’ ads from the comfort of their own offices – these illegitimate means of enhancing one’s own profits should be thoroughly avoided for a limitless number of reasons.
Here are several of these crucial reasons that highlight the importance in avoiding the temptation to click on your competitors’ ads.
You could get banned
Click fraud is against Google’s guidelines and, if caught, could result in you being permanently banned from the AdWords program. If you are an avid user of AdWords, then the benefits and profitable reward of using this software will be apparent.
Subsequently, risking this invaluable sales channel poses more harm to your business than your competitors’. Similarly, these policies are not limited to AdWords – you will find such activities are banned from most, if not all, advertising networks.
Click-fraud may fund criminal activity
If you do decide, to your own detriment, to attempt to damage your competitors’ PPC campaigns then you may be tempted to invest in click farms or bot networks to fraudulently click on your competitors’ ads.
Bot networks are extremely similar to exploitative click-farms, however, this fraud is conducted virtually with malware infecting computers around the world – secretly clicking on ads without owners’ knowledge or consent.
As a result, click farms and bot networks are often both associated with various other forms of criminal activity; leading your money to potentially support this host of a more serious crime.
Click-fraud is extremely easy to stop
Given the right technology, click-fraud can be easily detected and prevented. If your competitor is utilising effective software, then fraudulent clicks may seamlessly be eliminated. Clicks are easily trackable, heightening your risk of being identified and suspended.
As an alternative to fraudulently clicking on your competitors’ ads, a far more efficient method of outshining your competitors is to look at your AdWords campaign and see where this can be strengthened.
There are a host of areas in which simple changes can prove to make a significant difference – if you are not sure what can be done however, employing a reputable PPC agency may be one of the savviest investments you can make.
Roy Dovaston is operations lead at Click Guardian
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