Artificial Intelligence

Can AI be Trusted for Click Fraud Prevention in 2020?

5 Mins read

Click fraud, or PPC fraud, is a serious concern for businesses reliant on PPC campaigns, but artificial intelligence could finally offer a solution that works more effectively than before. After decades of not having any dependable defense against marketing fraud, it looks as if the pay-per-click campaign is all set to make a comeback with legitimate traffic that wasn’t generated by illegitimate clickers (both man and machine are part of this category).

However, this leads us to the main question in discussion here – can we trust machine learning processes to successfully prevent click fraud at an unprecedented rate of success than before, or is it just a gimmick that doesn’t really work? As that would essentially make it another type of fraud, read on as we discuss the matter in more intricate detail.

Machine Learning Can be Exceptionally Useful Against Click Fraud, But…

Machine learning has unlimited potential for the future, and there is no telling what heights an intelligent software would be able to scale in the future if it manages to learn everything that it needs to learn regarding a task and then take intelligent decisions based on that knowledge and years of experience. However, not every company that claims to possess such a self-learning algorithm in its initial stage is marketing the truth.

An article was recently posted regarding click fraud prevention and the real role of AI in it on ClickGUARD, which identifies and highlights a very crucial aspect of PPC fraud prevention. It states that despite AI algorithms having the potential to drastically reduce PPC fraud, any company that refuses to, or simply cannot provide data insights, is probably not being truthful about their program’s efficacy in preventing click fraud.

Being a premier name in click fraud prevention themselves, they have indeed put forward a very good question; if the click fraud prevention solution cannot provide valid, verifiable and actionable insight into how and to what degree the so called ‘artificial intelligence’ is working against click fraud, does it even make sense to trust such a solution based only on buzzwords such as AI and machine learning?

Are Some PPC Fraud Prevention Companies Taking Advantage of Buzzwords?

It is correct that the evolution of artificial intelligence is nowhere near its completion, but simultaneously, it’s also a fact that due to the very nature of such algorithms, they have come a long way from their initial days. As the whole idea of machine learning is based on learning, older software solutions with regular updates have become quite impressively powerful in what they do. This holds true in every aspect of business where intelligent software solutions have a place and not just click fraud prevention. Therefore, it can be said with confidence that when applied with the right intentions and with due expertise, these are potent for sure. That being said, how does a company know for sure that it’s exactly what they are getting?

One needs to have a proper understanding of AI functioning and algorithm development, if they are to determine the efficacy of a machine learning software. In the absence of that knowledge, marketers and brands are simply buying into the buzzwords that are popular, without even understanding what it is that they are paying for.

Due to the technicality of the whole system, it is perfectly possible that a company might be paying for another fraudulent software that does nothing to prevent PPC fraud at all. This is once again why paper trails and data insights are so important. As a customer, you should expect a PPC fraud prevention company to provide you with readable data insights and traceable paper trails behind each and every one of their preventative measures. If the quarterly data results match their reports, then and only then, can a company claim to be able to provide active click fraud prevention with the help of artificially intelligent software. If there are large disparities that they cannot explain, that is almost always a sign that they are doing little to nothing in respect to what you are paying them for.

Taking Advantage of Knowledge Gaps: Vague Reports

As a business owner or high-level executive, you are likely aware of nearly everything you need to be about the business itself. Unfortunately, that may not be able to prevent a fraudulent marketer or a fake PPC fraud prevention company from targeting your company. If you find their reports to be vague or undecipherable, that’s their problem and not yours.

It is part of the click fraud prevention service provider’s duties to present everything in a readable format. You are paying them to handle the technicalities and give you actionable insights, therefore, it is their job to minimize the technical aspects of a report and present it in a readable format. If your marketer or PPC fraud prevention service is being vague about their steps in the reports, you need to press them hard for better clarity.

In case that doesn’t work, shift to a more reliable and well reputed service as soon as possible. Whether they use machine learning or not, clear, verifiable insights are a must, and any organization unable to provide that to you is either unsuitable for the task, or they are being vague intentionally to hide facts.

How to Verify the Authenticity of a PPC-Fraud Prevention Company

Now that we have taken a brief but detailed look over the role of AI in click fraud prevention and how much scope there is for software vendors to exploit their customers, let’s take a look at another aspect of it, which is the selection process.

Perhaps you have already decided that it is time to stop wasting money and find a click fraud prevention solution that actually works, or maybe, this is the first time that your company has decided to invest some of their marketing budget into PPC campaigns. In either situation, selecting the right vendor requires taking a few steps in advance.

Ask for a Short Trial Period

The trial period doesn’t need to be free, but it needs to be short. If the provider is authentic, they should not have any issues with a paying customer who wants a shorter, trial subscription to test out their services. During the course of the trial period, your IT team should prepare a set of How and Why questions in respect to their every move if their report fails to clarify the program’s actions at the end of a session.

How and Why: Method and Cause

As previously explained, the reports should be transparent in both method and cause, which is why the following questions and others like it could help a company identify how good or bad their new PPC fraud prevention software provider actually is:

  • Why a step was taken and how was it executed?
  • How was that execution in favor of the immediate goal in question?
  • How does that step affect the PPC campaign and its overall goals?
  • Why was a particular IP blocked?
  • How did the software come to realize that the blocked IP is fraudulent?
  • How did it detect the malicious clicks and list them as such?

If the questions cannot be answered in a satisfactory manner by the vendor’s reports, or if they are unwilling/unable to provide the necessary insights, it is time to end the subscription and move on to the next. As a general rule though, try to use well-known and well trusted click fraud prevention services only, even if the less reputed ones are much cheaper. It might save you a lot more time and money in the long run if you do.

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