What is a Click Farm?
A click farm is a workforce whose job is to click on paid display ads for their employer, known as the fraudster, click farmer, or click farm master. They can avoid detection by showing legitimate visitor behavior, like browsing the site or signing up for a newsletter. They’re considered a significant upgrade from click bots.
Fraudulent clicks are problematic for PPC advertisers who have to pay for every click on their ads. The advertisers enter these pay-per-click (PPC) agreements with the expectation that they’ll have a reasonable conversion rate, resulting in a decent return on ad spend (ROAS). Farms are typically located in developing countries like China and India and pay meager salaries.
Types of click farms
There are two types of click farming. The first is farming clicks on the farmer’s own website to drive ad revenue. The second type is the farming of clicks on a competitor’s ads to consume their advertising budget and leave them vulnerable to being outbid on desirable ad space and PPC ranking.
Are click farms common?
Because click farms operate “underground,” it’s difficult to know how many there are in active operation. We know there are farms in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Bangladesh. Given the low cost of purchase and the geographical spread, we know click farming is prevalent in advertising and social media.
Here’s a real-world example of a click farm in India:
The Today morning show also produced a great report with real videos of click farms in action:
Busted: A Taiwan click farm in 2017
In 2017, authorities discovered a click farm that was generating views and likes on the Chinese social media app WeChat. Chinese nationals Wang Dong, Niu Bang, and Ni Wenjin ran the operation with over 400 iPhones and more than 300,000 sim cards. Police and military soldiers thought they were busting a fraudulent call center, so they raided the home-based operation and began an investigation.
According to the Post, the men were paid $13,209 per month by an unnamed company. The company also supplied the phones and equipment. The men faced charges of working without a permit, using unregistered SIM cards, overstaying their visas, smuggling the phones into the country.
How do click farms affect advertisers?
In both types of click farming, the advertiser is the victim. The average cost to advertise on Google Search is $1 to $2 per click. When a click farm generates thousands of clicks on a victim’s ads, they will have to pay thousands of dollars without any hope of recovering that money through customer conversions. Click fraud, including other types like bots, cost eCommerce businesses $3.8 billion in 2020, affecting 87% of companies today.
How to prevent click farms on your ads
Due to the seemingly organic nature of farmed clicks, it can be challenging to prevent this practice through traditional methods. Fraud Blocker saves your marketing budget by eliminating human and non-human traffic sources that drain your ad spend. Our proprietary algorithms are as sophisticated as the ever-evolving click fraud technologies. They can detect the atypical behaviors associated with click fraud and protect your business.