Aviva Zacks of Safety Detective had the opportunity to sit down with ClickCease’s co-founder and CMO, Ilan Missulawin, and asked him what cyberthreats should concern us today.
Safety Detective: How did you get into cybersecurity and what do you love about it?
Ilan Missulawin: A locksmith friend of ours raised the concern that a competitor was clicking on his Google Ads campaigns (then AdWords).
It sounded absurd and we assured him that Google protects his campaigns from click fraud instances. Nevertheless, we agreed to take a closer look at his advertising campaigns. We noticed that for each job he got from advertising, he was receiving dozens of clicks. After we spoke to more advertisers, we continued hearing the following mantra: “My competitor is clicking on my ads, it’s costing me money and I am losing new customers because my daily ad spend is exhausted too fast.” We understood that this was a big problem that no one was solving and that was the beginning of the ClickCease software.
SD: How does ClickCease’s threat detection work?
IM: ClickCease detects fraudulent activity on Google Ads campaigns.
A tiny script on the advertiser’s landing page coupled with a tracking template in the Google Ads account gives us the necessary data to make the following assessment: “Is the person that clicked the ad malicious or innocent?” If they are innocent, they are approved to continue clicking on the ads in the future. If they are fraudulent, we immediately alert Google and remove that threat from the campaign (or account). This way bots, competitors, or your ex-spouse can’t click on an advertiser’s ads repetitively and abuse the Google Ads platform.
SD: What types of enterprises use ClickCease’s services and why?
IM: ClickCease works with thousands of customers worldwide—from SMB’s to enterprises. Half of our customers are digital marketing agencies that are looking to optimize their customers’ campaigns.
The larger enterprises that work with ClickCease are paying Google Ads for millions of clicks per month. Click fraud that is blocked on such campaigns is translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
SD: What should advertisers be concerned about today?
IM: Any advertiser on PPC (Pay Per Click) platforms such as Google Ads, Amazon Seller, Bing, or Yandex needs to be aware that approximately one of five clicks he is paying for will never convert. Click fraud in the PPC world affects most advertisers and we call it the “quiet campaign killer.” People are unaware. They are unhappy with their ad results, but they think it is an issue of wrong keywords, bad targeting, and wrong campaign setup. You can have a perfectly set up campaign that will fail due to a competitor that is clicking on your ads.
SD: How do you see the cyberthreat landscape developing in the next five years?
IM: Working with thousands of click fraud victims, we see that attacking and spending someone’s advertising budget isn’t the job of sophisticated hackers or trained coders. Today, click bots can be downloaded for $200, and they can be deployed by anyone who has zero technical skills and just a bit of malice.
In the next few years, we will see more and more advertisers, big and small, affected by their competition that has found a simple loophole for creating damage. As click fraud solutions evolve, so will the attackers and higher levels of customization will be needed. This need for customization will bring more and more advertisers to be reliant on third-party software providers for full protection.