Thursday, April 05, 2007
Major trusted search properties such as Google, Yahoo Search Marketing, and others offer PPC campaigns in which you pay only when someone clicks through your banner ad or link. But PPC also has an enemy--click fraud--and understanding what it is and what to do about it should also be a key part of your PPC campaign.
What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is when someone or something generates illegitimate hits on your banner or text advertisement causing you to pay for worthless clicks. AS PPC campaigns have grown in popularity and keyword prices and bidding have become more competetive, click fraud is on the rise.
Online marketers are becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of click fraud. According to CNET News, some marketing executives estimate that "up to 20 percent of fees in certain advertising categories continue to be based on nonexistent consumers in today's search industry."
Who's Doing it and Why?
Click fraud perpetrators are most often motivated by trying to increase revenues from affiliate networks or attempting to damage competitors' revenues by forcing them to pay for worthless clicks. The Google Adsense program, in which affiliates receive payment for clicks whether they are real or not, has caused great concern for Google and has intensified its focus on click fraud.
Those engaged in click fraud use a variety of techniques to generate false clicks. Low cost international workers from all over the world are hired to locate and click on ads. The Times of India provided investigative reporting on payment for manual click fraud happening in India. Unethical companies may pay their own employees to click on competitor ads.
Last but not least, click fraud can be generated by online robots programmed to click on advertiser or affiliate ads. Some companies go to great lengths creating intricate software that allows for this to happen.
How Can You Deter It?
Many advertisers know about the possibility of click fraud but generally haven't done much in the past to prevent it. Some feel that if they complain to any of the search conglomerates, it could ruin their free listings. Others feel like the problem is beyond them.
Companies who do understand and report click fraud to search engine properties have had success receiving refunds for fraudulent clicks. For those advertisers who want to address the possibility of click fraud in PPC campaigns, good option do exists. At the most basic level, advertisers can use general auditing many have been known to compile lists of sites that generate high numbers of clicks but not sales. This will indeed put up a red flag.
On the other hand, because click fraud is advancing at such frequency, click fraud detection companies and software have been popping up all over the country. Let's take a look at some of the options:
- ClickDetective - ClickDetective allows you to track return visitors to your site and alerts you if there is evidence that your site may be under attack. Its reports show you every click in real time rather than a summary hours later.
- Clicklab - Clicklab employs a score-based click fraud detection system that applies a series of tests to each visitor session and assigns scores. Calculations are made to indicate bad/good sessions to show an advertiser the quality of traffic.
Click fraud is a big problem in search engine marketing that's only going to get bigger in the future. It is wise for any online advertiser to implement some auditing system. Why continue to waste precious campaign money?