Monday, 23 April 2007

The 'click fraud' debate

Latest quarterly figures published by Click Forensics indicate that 'click fraud' from PPC advertising is on the rise - up to 14.8% in Q1 of 2007, which is up from 14.2% in the previous quarter and continuing an upward trend. This company operates the Click Fraud Index, which comprises a network of over 3,500 advertisers and agencies who record data from their PPC campaigns.

This figure is significantly higher than figures released a few months ago by Google, who claimed that just 0.02% of their AdWords traffic is identified as click fraud (once other non-converting clicks are taken into account). Of course, everyone with an interest has an axe to grind (or a business to run) when it comes to these figures and the wide variation in figures comes down to definition and recording methods.

We haven't got space to list the different definitions of click fraud here and the 3 main PPC provides all define this in different ways and probably use slightly different methods to record and combat it. Google has been the most transparent and does show the number of 'invalid' clicks deducted from each AdWords campaign, which tends to range between 2-5%.

Click fraud will remain one of the biggest concerns for PPC advertisers (along with rising click prices) and we will no doubt return to this subject again soon. Regardless of all the figures and the automatic controls that are in place, or the manual checks that can sometimes be done, you can never stop a competitor occasionally clicking on your paid link, particularly if you're in a competitive (and high priced) market or they have the time to waste.

Ultimately the campaign overall still has to be successful and generate a good ROI, including any margin for click fraud costs. That will then come down to your keyword choices, website usability and product or price offer. Click fraud certainly can't be ignored, but it's just one of the factors that will determine whether your online marketing campaign is successful or not.

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