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 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
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.