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Pay Per Click Problems
One of the most important
Internet marketing tools is PPC advertising. With Yahoo and
Google leading the pack, the industry as a whole has grown
immensely in the past few years. PriceWaterHouseCoopers reports
that in 2004 alone, Internet Advertising brought in an estimated
$9 billion dollars. Anybody can use this marketing system that is
really quite simple in theory.
With PPC advertising you choose "keywords/phrases," then bid how
much you'd like to pay for each click. When a searcher goes to a
search engine and types in one of your keyphrases, your short
text ad appears, and if someone click on it your account is then
charged. In a "perfect world" this is the way it would work, but
thanks to unscrupulous people, there's a dirty little secret
known as "click fraud."
Click fraud is simply the act of clicking on ads for the direct
purpose of costing the advertiser money. It is recognized as the
biggest problem today in PPC marketing. According to
InternetWeek.com, 60% of people surveyed by the "Search Engine
Professional Organization" have stated that fraud is a problem
when it comes to PPC advertising.
PPC marketing can cost you a lot if you do not administer it
right. Bad targeting plus fraud can be a costly problem. The main
sources of click fraud are the following four:
1) AdSense Users:
Google Adsense has a program called "Adsense" that pays website
owners to run their Adwords ads and compensates them per click.
Google does monitor this and it's against their terms of service
to click on any of the ads on your own site. If they find a
publishers doing this, they will lose their accounts, but some
may still be clicking under the radar.
2) Your Own Competitors:
Your competitors could be clicking on your ads over a period of
several days in order to deplete your ad budget. This way they
neutrilize your advertizing campaigns.
There are those who use automated clicking tools, such as robot
programs, to click on PPC listings.
4) Paid Clickers:
In some Asian countries, people are often paid to click on PPC
ads for hours. Many don't know why they do it, and don't care.
The only important issue is that they will be well rewarded for their
efforts. If you do a search on any search engine you'll see plenty of
sites offering to hire people for just this purpose. Type in 'earn
rupees clicking ads' in Google and you get quite a few leads.
Most PPC networks have measures in place to protect you against
click fraud. Yahoo's Overture tracks more than 50 data points,
including IP addresses, browser info, users' session info and
what they call "pattern recognition." They have a "proprietary
system" in place for detecting fraud and a specialized team that
monitors things and works with the advertisers to stop it.
Google offers suggestions to avoid click thru fraud, such as
"using negative keywords" to keep your ads from showing up for
products and services that are unrelated. They also suggest
adding tracking url's to your links so you can track the traffic
coming from Google. If you go through your log files, you'll be
able to see your Google traffic at a glance.
If you suspect fraud, Google asks that you contact them right
away, because they have a team of researchers that will
investigate. They also take action to block future impressions
from anyone they identify as committing click fraud. Like
Overture, they also have "proprietary technology" that
distinguishes between normal clicks and invalid ones. Google
never bills you for any "bad clicks" that are caught by their
All honest website owners need to be alert to any "suspicious
activity" by researching their server logs or stats. If you're
experiencing a lot of clicks and no sales you'll also want to
take a closer look. You need to watch for any spikes in traffic,
usually on one keyword or phrase and coming from only one PPC
source. You need to measure and track all of your PPC accounts
A variety of new services have opened recently to help combat
the click fraud problem. Some of them also offer web analytic
tools that help improve your advertising productivity. You may
want to look at these outside services to take care of problems
for you. Here are some links:
1) Keyword Max: http://www.KeyWordMax.com
Offers up a service called "Click Auditor," which monitors the
activity on your PPC accounts and alerts you to any suspicious
activity. You can request a free demo at the site.
2) Click Detective: http://www.ClickDetective.com
A website monitoring service that uses sophisticated tracking
mechanisms to determine whether "visitor behavior" is normal or
not. Offering a 15 day free trial. Easy to use, you just copy and
paste a snippet of code on your page and add a campaign ID by
logging into your account.
3) Click Assurance: http://www.ClickAssurance.com
An Internet Security Firm that specializes in click fraud. They
will audit your PPC accounts and go after any refunds you are due
because of fraud.
4) Nami Media: http://www.NamiMedia.com
Specializes in post-click actions and landing page optimization
technologies. Offers to increase sales and give marketers the
ability to intelligently define landing pages to achieve business
objectives. Works on ASP platform.
5) Who's Clicking Who: http://www.WhosClickingWho.com
An independent auditing service that tracks individual users for
fraud. Can also detect abuse coming from proxy servers. A one
month subscription is $79.00, which includes free installation
and up to 50,000 transactions per month.
6) ClickLab: http://www.ClickLab.com/
This service isolates bad clicks with a scorecard based
detection system. Pricing starts at $50.00 per month and is based
on the number of sites you need to track and their page
ClickLab also offers white papers you should download while
visiting, get them at the resources section.
7) Tracking ROI: http://www.TrackingROI.com/
TrackingROI’s Content Personalization System is truly a
technological innovation that targets site visitors more closely.
This system allows you to segment visitors to your site into
groups and then provides personalized content through a Microsoft
Word like tool! Your visitors can be segmented based upon each
individual campaign. It offers ad tracking, site optimization, as
well as click fraud control.
Click fraud isn't going away anytime soon. Most probably, it
will get worse before it get's any better. It's up to you as a
vigilant website owner to do what you can to keep your PPC
advertising costs down. You can't stop it, but with the right
tracking in place, it can be managed and controlled, and
hopefully kept to a minimum.