PPC ClickFraud: Its a Bigger Problem then You Think

Pay per click search engine advertising is one of the most popular ways to promote a website. With Overture and Google leading the pack, the industry as a whole has grown immensely in the past few years. According to a report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers, they estimate that Internet Advertising brought in more than $9 billion in 2004 alone.

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 they 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's similar to paying out cash for false leads. According to InternetWeek.com, 60% of those who responded to a survey conducted by the "Search Engine Professional Organization" had stated that fraud is a problem when it comes to PPC advertising.

So where does click fraud come from? Well, there are actually a few different sources:

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 Competitors: Your competitors could be clicking on your ads over a period of several days in order to deplete your ad budget.

3) Software: There are those who use automated clicking tools, such as robot programs, to click on PPC listings.

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, only that they'll be well rewarded for their efforts. If you do a search on any search engine you'll see plenty of sites looking to hire people for just this purpose. For more on this see...http://tinyurl.com/2ka5g

Most PPC networks have measures in place to protect you against click fraud. 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. An easy way to do this is to add a ? to your links along with the identifier. For example, a tracking link to identify Google would look like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/?referer-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, as 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 system.

So what's an honest website owner to do? You need to be alert to any "suspicious activity" by researching your 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 closely.

If this sounds like too much work, you may want to look at an outside service to take care of it for you. A variety of new services have opened recently to help combat the click fraud problem.

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://ClickDetective.net

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://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) Who's Clicking Who: http://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.

5) ClickLab: http://ClickLab.com/products/click-fraud

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 views.

ClickLab also has a nice white paper you should download while visiting: "How to Defend Your Website Against Click Fraud."

Click fraud isn't going away anytime soon. If anything, it will probably 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.

"Must Have Marketing Resources" Ebook by Merle is loaded with VALUABLE online resources you need to know about, when it comes to running your web business. Get your copy now at ... http://mcebook.mcpromotions.com

In The News:

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020  Search Engine Journal
Full Service PPC Management  JumpFly PPC Advertising News
PPC Management for Agencies  JumpFly PPC Advertising News
Google PPC Ads in a Nutshell  Business 2 Community
5 PPC Trends to Get Ready for in 2020  Search Engine Journal
A Complete Guide to PPC Ad Formats  Search Engine Journal
5 Innovative PPC Tactics to Try Today  Search Engine Journal
What is PPC?  Startups.co.uk
The Top 7 PPC Strategies for 2019  Social Media Today
SEO vs. PPC: A Few Forgotten Truths  Search Engine Journal
How to run a PPC campaign  Startups.co.uk
PPC & CRO Synergy: 6 Tips for Success  Search Engine Journal

Are Small PPC Search Engines Really Worth The Effort?

Are Small PPC Search Engines Really Worth The Effort? The... Read More

PPC Fraud, Google Stands to Lose Millions

Google stands to lose millions if fraud continues. It is... Read More

Pay-Per-Click Fraud Exposed

Has anyone else noticed a disturbing pattern in your pay-per-click... Read More

Preliminary Survival Steps for Adwords Success

What I find is a lot of marketers do have... Read More

When Adsense Makes No Sense: Knowing When Not To Use The Google Adsense Pay-Per-Click Program

Google's AdSense program is a proven money-maker that has enriched... Read More

Maximise Your AdSense Earnings

As a blog or site owner, you can make some... Read More

Stop Whining About Google!

Blame GameNearly anyone and everyone involved with search engine optimization... Read More

Adwords & Adsense: A Beginners Guide

The Mechanism First a brief glossary of terms: Adwords: The... Read More

Successful Pay Per Click Ad Copy

Writing outstanding ad copy for pay-per-click advertising campaigns is critical... Read More

Cost Per Click Bid Management

Cost per click or pay per click is a common... Read More

Under The Covers: ClickBanks Affiliate Tracking System

The core principle of affiliate marketing is that the referring... Read More

The Cost Of Click Fraud

One of the biggest threats to the continued growth of... Read More

Google Adwords: Higher Traffic and Sales in 2 Hours or Less!

There are various ways to purchase highly targeted advertising at... Read More

Regarding the AdSense Update...

If you haven't yet got a Google AdSense account for... Read More

Market Research Means Money

I recently made a critical mistake in my progression towards... Read More

The Truth About Pay-Per-Click Ads

Are pay-per-click ads the best method of getting customers to... Read More

Price Your ClickBank Products for Maximum Profit

Choosing the right price for your digital products is one... Read More

How to Help Google Make Up Its Mind

As an AdSense sponsoring web site, your goal is to... Read More

Seven Tips To Getting The Nost From Your Google Ad Word Investment

With Google Ad Words . . .When a person searches... Read More

How To Win The War of Pay per Click Advertising.

Do you know what is the most important question among... Read More

How to Master Google AdWords - Part 2

4. Write an attractive ad - you have a very... Read More

Pay-Per-Click Search Engines ? The Basics

Search engine optimization can take a long time to show... Read More

Google AdWords: Like Playing The Lottery

A "dollar and a dream," is all you need said... Read More

How to Master Google AdWords - Part 1

Then most difficult aspect of marketing a new product or... Read More

The Truth About Overtures Pay-Per-Click Program

Before Google's AdWords, Overture was the preeminent pay-per- click program.... Read More