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What is Click Fraud?

Are you advertising your Web site on pay-per-click (PPC) search engines such as Google, Overture, Findwhat or others?? Beware of an activity that can secretly drain your ad budget: You could be an unknowing victim of click fraud also known as click spam.

Click fraud is the result of people who purposely use automated software or manually click your ad listings but don't intend to buy from you. There are two main perpetrators of click fraud: your competitors and the search engines' distribution partners.  Some of these partners are actually paid to go look at your site.

Your competitors might click your ad listings to waste your budget, hoping your campaigns stop running when your money runs out. Distribution partners of search engines often receive a per-click fee for displaying the search engines' results on their Web sites. For example, the top sponsored listings on MSN Search are usually from Overture. Low-traffic distribution partners might be inclined to click the listings on their own sites to receive payment.

As more advertisers have competed for desirable keywords in their industries, the cost for clicks has risen too. On average, advertisers are paying 45 cents per click this year, according to financial analysts, up from 40 cents in 2003 and 30 cents in the second quarter of 2002. In certain sectors, such as travel, legal advice and gaming, the cost can reach several dollars per click.

Search engines are aware of click fraud. A majority have click protection systems in place so advertisers aren't charged for bogus clicks. Overture, for example, explains in its "FAQs" pages how each click is evaluated by 20 to 50 different factors to ensure that it's valid. Therefore, can your competitors click on your listing 100 times in a row to drain your account? No. However, a few holes in the security systems remain.  This is why we invented Click Watch Dog, to make sure you are getting the advertising you are paying for.

The randomness of malicious clicks makes it harder to track fraudulent activity. Just a few clicks on only one or a couple of your keywords, on different days, across different PPC search engines, can slip by some search engines' security sensors. What can you do to protect yourself?  Install Click Watch Dog and watch your bad spam clicks start to disappear.  See how our Click Watch Dog program works here.

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