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pay per click advertising - Good Clicks, Bad Clicks - Recognizing the Signs of Click Fraud

by Chris Malta

Search engine marketing is a billion dollar industry - but click fraud poses a threat to search engine advertising companies and online marketers alike. Pay-per-click ad campaigns are a fairly simple concept: advertisers bid on popular search keywords and pay the search engine ad companies every time someone clicks on their ad. This is a mutually beneficial relationship for advertisers and search engines alike. The problem comes when the advertisers' numbers - and their bills - are falsely inflated through click fraud.

What is Click Fraud?
Boris Mordkovich of Search Marketing Standard, a magazine devoted exclusively to search marketing, explains, "Click fraud is any click made on an ad with no intention of actually buying or looking for information, but rather with the intention of depleting the advertiser's budget."

Who is Behind It?
Who would benefit from deliberately running up your bill? To start with, your competition would. The ads in the top spots are always in the crosshairs of the ads a little further down the page. And if your competitor clicks on your ad a few times a day or a few times a week, the search engines won't notice such small numbers. Doesn't sound like much but it can really add up, especially when you have multiple competitors doing it. So they just chip away at your budget until you can no longer afford to advertise on that search engine.

Another common source of click fraud is search engine affiliates. When webmasters get a cut of the revenue from the ads on their sites, they sometimes play the same game as your competitors. They quietly click away at your ad and raise your bill - and their profits - one click at a time.

"It Could Happen To You" - Fighting Back
When you think you have found a case of click fraud, you need to gather your information:

    1.

    the questionable clicks
    2. the keywords that were clicked on
    3. when they were clicked on, and
    4. the country from which the clicks originated

You can do this yourself by monitoring your server logs and watching for unusual increases in activity or repeated clicks from the same ISP address. Or you can get a third party to research it for you. Clickclub.com, AdWatcher.com and WhosClickingWho.com are examples of services that will analyze which of your clicks are valid, and present you with all the relevant information in an organized report. This type of service may cost you from twenty to a hundred dollars a month.

You can email this information to your search engine and request an investigation for the purpose of obtaining a refund. Mordkovich warns that you should expect some resistance. He advises, "It's important to elevate the issue to a supervisor. If the search engines know you are serious, they will look into your claims."

The key to not becoming a click fraud victim is to be aware: Watch the sources of your clicks. Check your server logs.

Watch for spikes. Consider a third party watchdog if necessary. Click fraud is both real and prevalent. So use a little caution and you can save yourself a great deal of money down the road.

 
Archive List

ARTICLE ARCHIVE LIST

 

What's a Blog and Why Should I H...

5 Benefits of Using Feeds - How ...

Branding Your EBiz - Creating a ...

3 Things Search Engines Want to ...

What's Affiliate Marketing - For...

Email Marketing for Your Small B...

Craft Marketing - It's Still Mar...

Putting Your Business in the Lim...

Marketing with RSS Feeds - Creat...

Getting Googly - A Quick Introdu...

Good Clicks, Bad Clicks - Recogn...

Search Engine Marketing - Gainin...

10 Tips to Increase Your Search ...

Sometimes It Pays to Follow the ...

The New Face of Advertising - Dr...

Comparison Shopping - the Flip S...

More for Your Money - Pay-Per-Ca...

RSS in a Nutshell - What It Is a...

The Truth about Optimization - 6...

Sales Copy that Sells - When Wor...

The Power of Suggestion - Increa...

A Win-Win Situation - Why Affili...

Successful Affiliate Marketing -...

Sitting Pretty - How to Achieve ...

Call Me... How to Improve Custom...

A Meeting of the Minds - EBay's ...

Citizen Media - the Future of In...

Why Buy? - Writing Compelling Sa...

Untapped Marketing Resources - G...

Affiliate Criteria - 3 Things to...

Show Me the Money - Turning Your...

Something to Talk About - How to...

3 Tips for Running an Effective ...

Attracting Spiders to Your EComm...

Internet Marketing - Getting Bac...

Shaping Your Marketing Message -...

Simple SEO - How to Create Conte...

Affiliate 2.0 - How to Implement...

Show and Tell - Tapping Into the...

Increase your sales by being Sti...