Click fraud is set to cost legal services marketers $193 million in 2020
Pay-per-click advertising (or PPC) can easily be one of the biggest costs in a law firm’s digital marketing mix. It’s not uncommon for the average law firm’s monthly PPC to spend to fall between $50,000 and $100,00. However, if you run a PPC campaign for a law firm or legal service you are almost certainly the victim of click fraud. New research from the University of Baltimore Business school found that 13% of all clicks on legal services ads are actually fraudulent clicks whether by bots or humans. The study finds that law firms and legal services are set to lose $193 million to click fraud in 2020.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is a method of sabotaging your (pay-per-click) advertising, such as Google Ads. Such ads are the ads you see (on Google for instance) above organic search results and refer to any type of online advertising where you are paying for impressions, clicks, conversions, or some other type of action. The legal industry has among the most competitive and expensive search keywords (think “car accident lawyer New York”). On an hourly basis, PPC budgets are hijacked by emerging frauds including click farms, competitor clicks, out-of-geo fraud, cookie stuffing, affiliate-link fraud, app download fraud, and site engagement fraud.
Paid social media click fraud
It is not just Google ads that can attract fraud. Click fraud occurs on other platforms increasingly used by lawyers to generate clicks: clicks on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn for instance. This is called paid social media click fraud. It is equally subject to invalid clicks.
How PPC Fraud is sinking law firm marketing budgets costing $193 million a year
Anthony Higman, Director Of Paid Search at SMB Team, is one of the leaders in managing PPC and paid social campaigns for top law firms. Recently his agency spent $2.8 million on PPC across 21 practice areas (giving the benefit of their lessons to marketers).
Higman says: “There are several kinds of click fraud out there: click farms, hackers, automated click bots, other marketing companies, and competitors. In the legal industry, competitors and marketing companies are mainly the culprit and they are generally not very smart about it. I think that marketing companies are the ones that are the most annoying to us. While these are not always technically labeled as invalid or fraudulent clicks, these people are clicking on high CPC ads and then trying to sell a client some sort of marketing product. When this happens, it is pretty clear that these people don’t really understand how PPC works, so we generally use this as a chance to educate them and warn them against clicking our ads in the future.”
He adds: “To keep our clients accounts as safe as possible and performing at an optimal level, we are constantly reviewing all data and optimizing towards conversion rate and making everything as relevant as possible.”
Stephan Futeral, CEO of JustLaw, a digital marketing agency for law firms says he managed a PPC campaign for a DUI defense firm spending $20,000 a month. He soon found strange analytics infecting his PPC campaign. Cost per conversion came down 35.06%, but the conversion rate went up 97.07%. The culprit: sophisticated fraud attacks . Futeral says: “I have encountered substantial fraudulent activities that, if left unchecked, cause significant financial losses and poor campaign performance. As many as 20% of websites that serve ads are visited exclusively by fraudulent click bots. It can also come from click farms, commercial enterprises that employ a large number of people to repeatedly click on items of online content in order to artificially inflate statistics of traffic or engagement.”
How can you stop click fraud in PPC Law Firm marketing?
The sophistication of cyber-attack-based click fraud has meant that detection is hard even for for those able to take the time out, and with the knowledge to investigate campaigns infected by fraud. Fraudsters and professional operators are now highly incentivized with sophisticated tactics to avoid detection. Fraudsters realize that catching their activity is improbable, and prosecution of fraudsters has proved virtually impossible. Consequently, CHEQ has launched the first cyber security and AI-based advanced anti-click-fraud protection for paid search and paid social campaigns increasingly used by law firms and legal services campaigns.
It is the first solution to block invalid clicks across platforms including Google and Facebook, alongside Amazon, Baidu, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snap, Twitter, Pinterest, Yahoo, and Yandex. Up until now click fraud solutions have focused on Google, and only detected basic invalid clicks through the use of outdated IP blacklists to detect invalid fraud. In contrast, CHEQ for PPC uses more than 1,000 cybersecurity parameters and machine learning in real-time certifying that every click is valid. It has found that law firms and legal service providers are among the worst hit by the problem.
The growing importance of PPC Cybersecurity Security protection for law firms
Paid search and paid social media spending have never been more important to law firms and legal service providers. In the wake of covid19, genuine leads are vital for lawyers to bring new customers and achieve revenue growth. However, with click fraud, ironically law firms are among the most attacked by fraud and determined criminals.
For PPC and social media managers, the elimination of rising click fraud has become a core business priority. With such eye-watering money being lost every day on paid search, and growing, click fraud detection is vital insurance to protect law firm adverts and campaigns from crashing and burning. It has become a top priority to secure the ongoing prosperity for law firms and legal services, bringing back real clients and killing off crooked clicks.
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