Pay per click
(PPC) advertising continues to gain popularity in
the online marketing world as an effective and inexpensive
way to drive targeted visitors to web sites. Research
firm eMarketer reported that between 2002 and 2003 the
paid search listing market grew 175 percent.
Major trusted search properties such as Google,
Overture, FindWhat, Search123 and Kanoodle, all 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 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.
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."
This estimate is
certainly unsettling for advertisers who, recently, have
been paying hefty amounts bidding on desirable search
terms. Financial analysts report that in the year 2004
advertisers are paying an average of 45 cents per click.
Compare this to 40 cents in 2003 and 30 cents in 2002
the bidding wars continue to rise.
Who's Doing it and Why?
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.
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
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.
"It is a bigger
problem, but folks just don't want to take the time to
track it down because it's a complex problem," stated
John Squire, of web analytics firm Coremetrics, to CNET.
"Given that some of the largest marketers manage
up to 1 million keywords in a campaign the data can be
difficult to crunch."
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:
- This fraud detector tracks all PPC search engines,
detects multiple IP's, and even pops up a "ClickMinder"
after a potential abuser clicks repeatedly over five
- 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
- BogusClick can help advertisers determine competitor
IP addresses, originating PPC search engines and/or
partner sites involved, as well as keywords used.
- 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.
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?!
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