I recently spoke to a potential JumpFly client who inquired about click fraud. I explained that Google and Yahoo already use sophisticated techniques to detect and eliminate a great deal of fraudulent clicks. I further explained that various Google AdWords tools also prove very helpful in identifying and preventing invalid clicks.
What is Click Fraud & Why Does it Exist?
Click fraud is a scheme that takes advantage of PPC advertising programs like Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter. One of the more common scams involves a company developing a fraudulent website and then participating in programs like Google’s AdSense. Criminals often use software “hitbots” or employ boiler-rooms of low-wage employees from other countries to generate clicks on their own ads, and then collect commission from PPC advertising providers.
Click Forensics Research Indicates Ongoing Click Fraud
The overall industry average click fraud rate was 16% for Q3 2008. However, the click fraud rate among top-tier search-sites like Google and Yahoo was lower.
The average click fraud rate of PPC advertisements appearing on search engine content networks, including Google AdSense and the Yahoo Publisher Network, was 27%.
- The greatest percentage of click fraud originating from countries outside North America came from Russia (5%), France (5%) and the U.K. (4%).
What is Google Doing about Click Fraud?
I frequently focus on Google AdWords, as they are the PPC leader and the main concern of most PPC advertisers. Google already has powerful prevention techniques in place to detect invalid clicks and they will not charge advertisers for these clicks. Click here to learn how Google detects invalid clicks.
In fact, Google AdWords advertisers can run a Campaign Performance or Account Performance report to see the number and percentage of clicks that have been classified as invalid and automatically filtered from their accounts. This information is fairly interesting. When viewing this data for our JumpFly Google AdWords Account, I can see that Google identified 13% of our overall traffic from last month as fraudulent. The majority of invalid clicks were detected from our exposure to image ads on the content network, where Google identified 46% of the traffic as invalid.
Click fraud represents a reasonable concern for PPC advertisers, but Google and Yahoo are already doing a great deal to prevent fraudulent activity and refund advertisers when applicable. Additionally, using free tools provided by Google AdWords or 3rd party software can greatly assist advertisers in further identifying and eliminating potentially invalid clicks, a topic that I will further explore next time.
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