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4 Ways Advertising Agencies Can Protect Themselves From Click Fraud When click fraud strikes, it runs rampant, devouring budgets and negatively impacting performance. Here's how to protect yourself.

By Eli Martin

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Click fraud, a type of pay-per-click internet fraud, is becoming more robust within the digital marketing landscape. Click fraud happens when users -- or bots -- intentionally click on a link with the purpose of charging someone for the click. Often times, they have no interest in the end result, causing a catastrophic impact on agencies, eating away at client budgets and negatively impacting performance.

Poor performance can hurt an agency's reputation, causing them to lose clients. Agencies need to protect themselves and their clients to circumvent this vicious cycle.

Related: 5 Ways You Can Be Swindled by Click Fraud

Here are four things agencies need to do to protect their customers and their bottom line from click fraud.

1. Test traffic sources.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The same can be said for website traffic. While it's important for agencies to consistently seek out new traffic sources, it's just as important to always be testing.

By testing the traffic, a new source is vetted. Some fraud can mask itself to look like converting, high-performing traffic. Initially, your client's traffic will increase, and you'll look like a superstar. But when it comes time to pay up, you're slapped with the harsh reality that the traffic did nothing for the client. And you're not getting paid for it.

Before committing to traffic, agencies should test the source to ensure it's clean. Gathering feedback from clients on how well traffic performs and converts helps agencies avoid click fraud. Reviewing the analytics and client feedback will help both the agency and client make more informed decisions about the quality and integrity of their traffic.

2. Work with a company that filters traffic for you.

Media buyers can't solve click fraud. However, they can use third parties that'll do the leg-work for them.

Companies that can filter out known bad traffic before it moves onto the advertiser do indeed exist. These traffic-scoring solutions are mainstays in the digital advertising space. By collecting and analyzing the data consistently, they're an excellent resource to help protect advertisers and publishers -- generally the person or company that owns the website -- from the negative repercussions of unsavory traffic.

Related: Should You Focus on SEO or Pay-Per-Click Marketing?

3. Don't buy from a publisher who you can't talk to.

If you can't get the publisher on the phone, don't do business with them. In the digital advertising space, it's often difficult to confirm that you're dealing with a real person. It's easy to hide your identity when transactions take place online or over Skype.

Deciphering someone's tone through text is difficult. A phone conversation can hint at insincerities and doubts through voice when typed words say otherwise.

Publishers can use sneaky tactics to try to gain your trust. For instance, you may be communicating with Sarah Smith from California via email. But once you get her on the phone, you realize that you've actually been talking to Lana in Russia the whole time.

But why fabricate a persona? Their reputation may already be tarnished in the ad space. "Sarah's" real-life counterpart could be blacklisted from several sites for providing bad traffic. But she still needs to make money. Money is something "Sarah" can make, but "Lana" can't. And without ever speaking to her, the advertiser would be none the wiser.

When you can't get a representative on the phone, it's time to unplug from this network.

4. Know where the traffic is coming from.

Know where your clicks are coming from. Ask the publisher for a list of sites that would be a good fit for your ad. And look for reputable sites with high-quality traffic and a good likelihood of conversion.

For instance, if you're selling shoes, you may want your ads placed on shoe blogs. People visiting these sites are interested in fancy footwear. Because they're genuinely interested in what you're selling, there's a higher chance that they'll click your ad and purchase a pair of shoes.

You want your ads to show up on sites that are relevant to your product. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask the publisher where they intend to place your ads. A good publisher will be able to show you a list of sites that have ads on them. Then you'll know where your ad will appear and if it will be seen by the right audience.

Whenever you're doing business online, scammers will come out of the woodwork. Make sure you're doing everything possible to avoid falling victim to their fraudulent behavior.

Keep your clients' budget safe by reviewing and introducing click fraud prevention tactics into your media buying strategy.

Related: Study: Online Fraud Is About to Kick Into High Gear

Eli Martin

Director of Sales at eZanga.com

Eli Martin is the director of sales at the Delaware-based small business, eZanga.com, a digital-marketing firm that helps companies grow their businesses through pay-per-click and cost-per-call advertising. His company boasts one of the only real-time dynamic fraud-elimination tools, Traffic Advisors.

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