Clicklab, a Web analytics and click fraud protection service, recently released research suggesting over 50 percent of all clicks coming from pay per click advertising are fraudulent. If true this number is far more significant than many industry insiders had previously thought and up to 30% more than previously published studies have shown and certainly more than Google or Yahoo, the two major players in the ppc arena, would admit to. Although some might recall that Google did underline the problem to the Securities and Exchanges Commission as a potential risk that investors should worry about during their IPO filing.
The study also revealed there are two categories of fraud, competitive where the clicks are meant to deplete a competitors daily ad budget and affiliate fraud where the clicks are meant to increase compensations.
So how are they doing it? Usually a program is created that will go to Google or Yahoo! and click on the same sponsored link. These programs then click through to the landing page which triggers the advertising or affiliate fee, abandon the session and then repeat. The same is true of the B2B offenders but their models will identify the competitors ad and start the cycle.
So how can you protect yourself against this abuse? Well there is no failsafe method yet but we have used tracking tools to help identify problem accounts and several are available through third party vendors. Some examples of this service are:
Besides using a tracking system, it is essential you stay in communication with the engine on which the fraud is occurring. Despite the negative impression pay per click fraud is having, Google & Yahoo! are committed to providing their service on the up and up and from our experience they will investigate all claims of fraud, they’ve got to, this is their cash cow especially for Google.
As more and more major corporations use ppc to advertise their wares this problem would seem to have a shorter rather than longer life. Rest assured when they start recognizing the dollars they’ve lost from fraud, they certainly won’t hesitate to use their influence in the political world to put an end to click fraud.