PPC networks, including Google Adwords, confirm the existence of click fraud and are working hard to solve it. Researchers estimate $1.6 billion were lost to click fraud as of 2008. Google claims that on average less than 2% of all clicks through Googleâ€™s systems are click frauds whereas some of click fraud management companies report click fraud rates as high as 20%.. So click fraud poses a serious threat to PPC advertisers as well as to the credibility of PPC networks.
How Adwords Fraud Occurs
Most people have had some sort of encounter at some points with internet scams, viruses, spyware or other security problems. A pay per click account makes an attractive target to a technically savvy hackers and scam artists criminal and gaining access to someoneâ€™s account allows them to promote their schemes at someone elseâ€™s expense.
Click fraud occurs when you place a keyword in a category for PPC advertising and your competitor keeps clicking on your link with the intention of costing you too much money to stay any where near him. This could be very costly to you. At 3-4 dollars a click if your competitor clicks on your link a few hundred times this could end up costing you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
Adwords Fraud Detection
Google AdWords or Yahoo try to put fraud prevention technologies into place to prevent click fraud by all parties; however, it is difficult to detect which clicks are legitimate and which ones are fraudulent. Click fraud management companies trying to build click fraud detection and prevention software and reporting systems that help track possible invalid clicks and reimburse advertisers for the invalid clicks.
Most search engines boast that they protect you from this type of fraud by monitoring for duplicate clicks from the same ip address in a short period of time. They claim that it is in their benefit to protect you from this type of fraud because they want to keep you as a long term client. They may be doing some monitoring but there are many loop holes to their monitoring.
Some tips for safeguarding your campaigns:
Monitor your account regularly; particularly at the end of the week and take random peeks on the weekends. It only takes a minute to log on and check. Report your case to Google immediately if you think youâ€™ve fallen prey to click fraud. Here are some tips for safeguarding your Google AdWords campaigns:
1. First of all you should keep an eye on your click through rates. It is easy to review your click-through rates and conversions with Google. You can even print out a daily or weekly report to monitor any bizarre activity. You might also want to reconcile your click-through rates with your actual web site traffic report. Check for IP addresses and websites that access your site regularly.
2. Set a daily click limit. Bruce C. Brown, the author of the book â€œThe Complete Guide to Google Advertisingâ€ suggests that every Adwords manager set up a daily click limit. This allows you to monitor how many clicks are being generated over a period of time, so your ad isnâ€™t just â€˜left out in the openâ€™ for anyone to click on. When the click limit has been reached, your ad will simply disappear.
3. Maintain a daily budget. Limit your advertising costs on Google AdWords by setting up a budget. Your budget should be at a reasonable level allowing you to maintain it for several months. If you are a target of click fraud, your losses will only be limited to your specified budget.
4. Use the geographic location feature. Using the geographic location feature is one of the best methods for safeguarding your campaigns against fraudulent activities. Why waste your Adwords budget on countries that you never do business in? Do some research to find out where your best target market is, and focus on showing ads only in those countries or regions.
5. Some PPC companies offer free services, donâ€™t sign up there. There are several PPC companies that offer free products, services of downloadable tools as an incentive for you to sign up. Be cautious about these, especially if it involves downloading something to your computer that â€˜monitorsâ€™ your keyword campaign. However, getting a Google Adwords â€˜creditâ€™ when you sign up with a hosting company or domain name registrar is safe; as long as youâ€™re working directly with Google Adwords, you donâ€™t have to worry about fraudulent activities that would affect your budget.
6. Google or Yahoo will NEVER ask for your account information by email; they wonâ€™t even ask for your password on the phone. All they ever ask for whenever I phone them is the 10 digit account number. They donâ€™t need any other information to open up the account for viewing. Most legitimate enterprises donâ€™t need your login details, so if someone requests them, be very cautious.
You need to report your experience directly to Google or Yahoo if you think you were a victim of click fraud. Google investigates click fraud cases with their own fraud protection team. Report your case as soon as possible to get your Google AdWords campaign back on course.