E-commerce Insights: All You Should Know About Click Fraud
Criminals also migrate to content networks by creating bogus pages with content ads for costly phrases, and generating false clicks on those ads to steal money from advertisers.
Sophisticated criminals use viruses and spyware to turn infected machines into zombie click farms. Stebbins noted that criminals used to target $3-plus clicks, but now fraudsters are going down market and are targeting $0.75-plus clicks to avoid detection.
How prevalent is click fraud on the content networks? Stebbins estimates as much as 40 percent. Leonard quoted a prevalence of 25 percent. Most experts agree that click fraud is far more prevalent on the content networks, with fraud rates perhaps as much as five times higher than on core search.
Reducing Your Exposure
What one simple action can catalogers take to reduce their exposure to click fraud?
Avoid contextual advertising. And while avoiding content will reduce both your traffic universe and your cost, it probably won’t harm sales. If you do decide to run content:
+ track those campaigns separately;
+ test carefully; and, if possible,
+ restrict your ads to selected publisher sites individually by specific URL.
There are good clicks to be bought within the content networks, but buying them takes great care and attention. Watch your conversion metrics; when you see content ads not selling, turn them off.
May all your paid clicks be valid, and may those clicks yield profitable sales.
Links of Interest
Shuman Ghosemajumder’s Blog
Google Click Fraud Engineer
How Fictitious Clicks Occur in Third-Party Click Fraud Audit Reports
The Lane’s Gifts v. Google
Report by Prof. Alexander Tuzhilin
Click Forensics Blog
Alan Rimm-Kaufman is president of the Rimm-Kaufman Group, a paid search marketing firm serving catalogers and direct marketers. Reach him via his online blog at rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog.