In this day and age, where advertisements are nothing without digital influence, bot farms are what help a business stay afloat. You can say that bots have the power to generate popularity for various online campaigns and are slowly fortifying a digital revolution.
Now, what exactly is a bot farm? It is more of a sweatshop. And With Pay Per Click or PPC, it is becoming a new form of earning quick cash. However, the darker side of PPC is no pay. Human-run farms are an extensive warehouse of sorts, holding a few hundred workers who tirelessly click on sites or interact with hyperlinked web pages to boost their e-growth.
Additionally, most of such marketing units do not receive sufficient pay for their clicks. And hence, while there is no direct illegality in bot farming, they are the digital lawbreakers through non-payment and fraudulently generating a site’s internet traffic.
Now, such digital interaction-based services through click farms are available through various resellers. Moreover, these are popular among multiple online industries, such as:
- Website traffic generation
- Fake news articles that need social media traction,
- Social media posts which need mass clicks, likes, and reactions (On Facebook and Instagram)
- Generation of backlinks
- Rank improvement of fraud applications on app stores, and
- Fraud sites that need ranking through mass fake digital traffic.
Now, the last is where you can detect the illegality. When it comes to click-frauds, it is how various online bases receive their digital certificate of authentication through false traffic.
Are Bot farms a boon or bane for the Digital Marketing world?
Just like the bot farms, a click farm operates to boost traffic on a post or page. However, here, the authenticity of the ad might be in question. While most websites use click farms to generate their revenue by falsifying their popularity, they also attract naive organic clicks through its false-traction.
Of course, click frauds do more than just clicking on a link. Its programming helps in interacting with a page or a post. And these would include clicking on surveys, hyperlinks, liking posts, copy-pasting comments, utilizing hyperlinks or hashtags, and so on. By doing so, the site or post not only drives up its inorganic traffic but also opens up further to the organic reach through false-mass popularity.
Various advertising agencies also utilize these bots and clicks for bringing up their rival page’s ad-prices. By doing so, they gain sales and also use the concept of click extortion on their competitors.
Now, various such malicious sites can attract your clicks through their click-generated popularity, thereby encroaching upon your online privacy.
Are Bot Farms Similar to Click Bots?
Click-bots are a part of the bot farm. Now, these farms provide a more genuine reach to an app, a page, or even a post that might need to haul up their revenues per click. Moreover, it is a pay-per-click method. And it utilizes employees as well as coded software to generate mass clicks.
A farm is more of an infrastructural unit, with multiple servers, IP addresses, routers, data channels, and more. Meaning, these are more advanced telecommunication companies with thousands of IP addresses, all located in a single area.
In a way, a farm bot is a more sophisticated and organized version of a click farm. It not only helps to boost the page’s revenue and reach through generating clicks but provides a more organic touch.
Meaning, automated farms can visit the landing page, complete click-surveys, like posts, create an organic visitor’s impression, and more!
As for click farms, they learn and evolve through coding. These fraudulent clicks are programmable software-made, specifically for invalid clicks, and become steadily.
Meaning, a professionally-generated click can mirror the human-like behaviour that farms generate. Therefore, they are capable of much more, such as:
- Form fillup (surveys)
- Copy-pasting spam comments,
- Adding in false ratings and reviews to new apps,
- Mouse movement and more.
The issue with click-bots would be the malware. An in-house developed click-bot can be malware that is part of a farm. Now, these are spam clicks that follow instructions from the botmaster server to click on specific links, ads, landing pages, and so on.
Let us take the example of Clickbot.A, a Trojan virus. This online virus was able to click on an ad every 15 minutes as this was the botmaster server’s instruction.
While most of the time, such fraud bots go unnoticed by anti-virus programs, click-frauds have become a rampant issue in the traffic generating and digital farming sector.
Which Industries Specialize in Click Fraud?
Pay-Per-Click ads are not only invalid but also can rake up substantial revenue through this fraudulency. Moreover, fraud clicks can be dangerous to websites’ privacy that host several pages and their promotional ads.
So which sectors maliciously benefit from the click fraud industry? Let us find out:
Now, these are coded software malware that can generate faux-mass traffic to boost a website’s relevancy. Moreover, it behaves like human visitors on social media posts, websites, etc. to increase click counts and reach through reacts and likes.
It is also known as a fraud operation, with Methbot taking the lead. The bot farm came in the discovery under the White Ops cybersecurity back in 2016. The security confiscated about 500,000 IPs and 6,000+ domains, which helped its creators churn up around $5 million each day.
Web publishers earn mostly through revenues and are also at the risk of losing their partnership with Google. And this revenue amount generates solely through their advertisements for clicks.
And as web pages are software programs, these publishers also hire fraudulent click farms to raise their revenues.
The risk with Google is predominant as the latter surveils 3rd party traffic on web pages to maintain an organic growth of each site.
And at last, the click farms. These arebots, part of a more massive click-generation digital farm. Moreover, this is a dystopian method of generating fake traffic to attract organic visits.
You shall find click farms’ clients to be mostly online shops and sales pages. These pages purchase these clicks, reactions, and spam comments on their pages to drive in more customers.
Not only do such advertisers gain revenues, but also sales profits from genuine clients.
Such companies can also harm their rivals by purchasing clicks for their online advertisements. And this is dangerous for competitors with a limited budget.
However, the farms and companies providing the clicks receive little to no pay for their services under the sector.
How to Detect Farm Bots and Click Frauds?
Irrelevant Referral Traffic
To detect ad fraud, check your page’s Google Analytics for referral traffic. If you notice an unknown or odd traffic point, that is a bot.
These IP addresses are mostly from bots to generate referrals to your sites.
If your page has a surge in Click-Through Rates or CTRs, without any recent advertisements, it is most possibly a click fraud situation. Make sure to check if they are from irrelevant countries or IP addresses.
Click-Bots and their farms are on their way to becoming the next crucial method of digital marketing. However, with spiked fraudulent activities, it is best to keep a watch out for malicious steps by your competitors.
Image Credit: Bot Farms via Golden Sikorka/Shutterstock