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Thursday, May 6th, 2004

Are your Clicks for real?

 

As Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising becomes more and more popular so does the art of fraudulent clicking. Companies are springing up overseas with the sole purpose to click on advertiser ads. How does this affect your PPC Campaign?

As reported on the Times of India, there is a secret army of ad clickers. In a nutshell these secret armies are paid a few extra hundred dollars a month, working from home, for simply clicking on paid ads. When I read this article the first thing that came to my mind was how many other companies are out there doing this? If you are running an AdWords or Overture campaign are you at risk?

Google claims to closely monitor all clicks on Google AdWords to ensure that there is no abuse of the program. They do this by analyzing all clicks to determine if they fit a pattern, and can distinguish the difference between automated and normal use. They go on to say that they filter out all fraudulent clicks from your billing, but this cant possible be 100% effective. If a competitor intentionally clicks on your ad for the sole purpose of costing you money, you will be out your click rate. Google cannot possibly tell that the user is a competitor; it is simply a click from an individual who performed a search.

If you suspect that your account has been charged for numerous fraudulent clicks your best bet is to arm yourself with log files and complain to the search engine, be it Google, Overture, or one of the many other PPC providers. The more information you can provide them with, IPs, Times, Days, Keywords, etc, the more likely you will be credited.

Protect Yourself

There is a good chance that you are not receiving any fraudulent clicks, or at least not enough to worry about, but it is important to be aware that this is happening. It is important to watch your accounts closely for any unusual activity. If you are used to seeing 20 paid clicks per day, and suddenly you receive 100, I would take a look into why this is happening.

So how can you protect yourself? Google recommends ensuring that your ads are very well targeted, focused towards keywords that are less likely to draw fraudulent clicks. Avoiding keywords such as internet, download, travel, flowers, music, or sex, keywords often targeted by fraud, can reduce the risk. Using negative keywords can also help to hone in on more qualified traffic.

Why Do Fraudulent Clicks Exist?

People perform fraudulent clicks for a few reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as trying to cost the competition a few dollars and other times they can be comprehensive schemes of placing PPC ads on ones website and getting an army of clickers to boost their advertisers costs, but regardless of the reason, it always comes down to money.

One suggestion to the SEs would be to have them credit all account at billing time a set percentage, based on keywords, to accommodate for the possibility of fraudulent clicks, but I would not hold my breath. To a degree, fraudulent clicks are just a part of doing business, but Hiring a PPC Professional to create your well-targeted ads can help reduce those unwanted click throughs while increasing qualified traffic.


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