BusinessWeek Clickfraud Article Doesn't Click
insurance, insurance quotes, life insurance quotes, term life insurance quotes, mortgage, health insurance, refinanceThis MostChoice company is in a pretty competitive industry, from the point of view of PPC (pay per click) prices. Bids on Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture) are in the $4-$10 range for the keywords they've stuffed on their site. The Business Week article mentions, "the validity of his clicks, for which he pays up to $8 apiece, has become an obsession. Every day he pores over fresh spreadsheets of click analysis." What appears to be missing is a strategy to structure the PPC advertising accounts in order to minimize fraudulent clicks. Perhaps these guys need to tweak their AdWords. Here's where the article unravels:
Fleischmann, like most other advertisers, has agreed to let Google and Yahoo recycle his ads on affiliated sites.With both Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing, advertisers can choose to opt out of contextual advertising. By opting out, advertisers would avoid most of the sources of click fraud. The Business Week article misses a fundamental point: Yahoo and Google sell both search engine advertising and contextual advertising. Advertisers can buy just search engine advertising, if they desire. If they choose contextual advertising, it's up to them to understand where the clicks are coming from and to structure their accounts to minimize click fraud. True, the search engines need to do more to combat click fraud. I argue in my post about the Google AdWords Philosophy that Google needs to entirely separate search ads from contextual ads. Here are some of the strategies advertisers can use to minimize click fraud from the Google content network (where contextual ads are displayed):
- Turn off the content network
- Run contextual ads in a separate keyword-targeted campaign
- Set lower bids for content ads
- Block sites in the content network (using the site exclusion feature)
- Run content ads in a separate site-targeted campaign
I'm more concerned about click fraud from search ads. When Google and Yahoo blur the distinction between search advertising and content advertising, that's where the promise of PPC advertising is in trouble. In a blog entry entitled Wired: Google vs Click Fraud from December of last year, I talked about this problem. Just like Google has evolved the AdWords platform over the past year to increase the ability to manage ads across the content network, it needs to give advertisers more control over the search network. For instance, why can't site exclusion work for the search network? That would have solved the ZapMeta problem referenced in the BusinessWeek article. Additionally, advertisers should have the option to not display ads on parked domains. Those are not search ads.
The battle over click fraud needs to be fought on two fronts: search click fraud and content click fraud. Advertisers can employ strategies to minimize click fraud from content ad clicks. The search engines need to do more to address click fraud that occurs from search ad clicks. Advertisers need to have adequate tracking in place to know where clicks are coming from and to identify those that might be fraudulent.
Free resources: tool to track Google content ad clicks, tool to track Yahoo ad clicks
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