Click fraud has been a popular topic of discussion for a number of years, and it doesn’t appear the issue will fade away anytime soon. The industry is full of various numbers thrown around putting the click fraud rate anywhere from .02 percent (claimed by Google) to 30 percent or more. Who should you believe about click fraud, and how much should you be worried?
First of all, it’s important to understand the real rate of click fraud can vary significantly from one company to another; thus, you should take any click-fraud rate numbers with a grain of salt. The percentage of click fraud will depend on a dozen different factors, such as ad position, bid price and specific industry type. The more competitive the industry and the more you pay per click, the more incentive there is for others to try to defraud you.
Second, it’s very important to understand that click fraud by itself is not the determining factor in whether your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign is a success. I have seen many clients afraid of trying PPC because of fraud concerns. However, the truth is click fraud only affects your campaign to some degree. Unless you have razor-thin profit margins, your campaign’s success depends much more on the quality of your ads, the targeting of your landing pages and the overall campaign effort. Granted, nobody wants to lose 10 percent to 15 percent (or more) of his/her advertising budget to useless clicks (and remember there are ways to minimize them).
Third, it’s important to be aware of the role of search engines and other companies involved in the whole issue. Search engines, in general, are very protective of their anti-fraud technology and don’t divulge information about it; thus, people turn to third-party services for assistance in detecting and preventing fraudulent activity. If search engines were willing to share some basic information about what they charge an advertiser for, with a breakdown of each click along with the IP address and the referrer (somewhat like a phone bill), it would be much easier to detect fraud and receive refunds. Hopefully, we will see changes along this line in the near future.
Ultimately, you should be aware of the issue, take action in order to detect it and prevent it, and ensure that you’re billed accordingly. But click fraud shouldn’t scare you off from advertising on PPC search engines altogether. That would be a much bigger mistake.
A question that is of further discussion is "What actually should be considered as a click fraud?"
Google Considers multiple clicks coming from the same IP address as normal user pattern like, for example, if the customer clicks on your ad and after seeing your home page presses the back button and then again clicks on your ad; you are actually billed for two clicks.
My sites have been running on PPC (Google Adwords) from the past 3 years and my monthly budget is around $3,000 USD. In this span of 3 years I got a fraud credit once and that, too, of only $1 USD. I have been complaining to Google about my increased daily budget; but my complaints have landed on deaf years.
In my opinion, a check should be put on the search engines and it should be mandatory for search engines to give the breakdown of each click along with the IP and the referrer. Search engines deliberately do not give the breakdown of the clicks along with the IP's because this will affect their Income resulting from false clicks.
An advise for an advertiser is that the click frauds from content network are more as compared to the search network (Google) so he should never run his site on the content network and the actual percentage of click fraud is anywhere between 15 % to 35%, depending on your daily budget and position.
-- Rishi Sachdeva
I'm running PPC ads with Google, Yahoo, Enhance, Looksmart, and MIVA. These 5 PPC service providers are all the industry leaders and claim to have the least click frauds and best quality of clicks. However, the truth is, from my owned developed PPC ads tracking software that is highly tailored to my needs, the shocking news is i found out the click fraud rate can be as high as 90% of the total clicks. Sales conversion is there, but my money is draining at the same time.
How ido I define the click fraud from the PPC ads tracking result? Click fraud is:
1) Clicks that are coming from similar IP within 1 hour;
2) Clicks that do not come from real visitor, but robot, spider or even purposely developed automated program;
3) Single click that duplicates and being charged multiple times;
4) Clicks that are coming from similar IP country over a period of time (might be within 24 hours or ã week), and such visitor don't seem to stay more than 1 minute in your site.
5) Click from a (service provider partnered) site that:
- having bad ranking (ALEXA Ranking) but still sending huge traffic to your site;
- having more than 10,000 sites being hosted under same IP;
- normally running as a very small engine or PPC ads search engine.
If you are having the same PPC ads tracking programs like me, you be will shocked by your PPC click traffic. You will know actually you need to pay only 30%~70% of your actual advertising budget to get the current sales amount.
From my experience, some good tips to share with you here are:
1) For Google, do not advertise in Content Network;
2) Always make sure your ads are published evenly over time;
3) Don't bid for the first 5 top positions if your budget is limited;
4) Always check the URL where PPC clicks coming from;
5) Whether the PPC ads works or not, it will tell you the result within a month
-- Kaven N