Click Fraud Minimization Strategies
Experts think click fraud is especially prevalent on sites affiliated with search engines. Those sites display ads on behalf of large search engines and include many popular Web logs and mom-and-pop businesses.In the case of Google's advertising platform, AdWords, advertisers can choose to distribute ads on just Google and/or Google's search network and/or Google's content network. By opting out of the content network, then, advertisers mitigate the bulk of the risk of click fraud. Neither Google nor Yahoo do a good job educating users about the risks of contextual advertising. When an advertiser purchases PPC advertising through either Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing, the advertiser is, by default, buying both search engine advertising *and* contextual advertising. The advertiser can, however, opt out of contextual advertising. On Google AdWords, the content network box needs to be unchecked at the campaign level. On Yahoo! Search Marketing, the Content Match option needs to be turned off for the account.
For advertisers new to search engine marketing, it would be wise to disable contextual advertising while learning effective search engine advertising techniques. Since the BusinessWeek clickfraud article ran, many clients have been asking about click fraud. I've explained to them some of the strategies I've been employing to minimize their click fraud risk. I figure these strategies might be useful for others. I'll identify click fraud minimization strategies for Google AdWords, since that platform is winning the search engine advertising war.
- Isolate content network budget in separate campaign(s)
- Don't bid for top position (for either search or content ads)
- Work to increase ad rank through relevance not bids (for search ads)
- Track content traffic and block bogus sites (using the site exclusion feature)
- Bid less for content ads (instructions for combined search + content campaign)
- Create 3 new campaigns: Google only, search network only, content network only
- Move ad group experiencing click fraud activity to Google only campaign
- Copy ad group to search network only and content network only campaign
- Set very low budgets and/or low bids for the 2 network campaigns
- Use separate tracking URLs for the 3 ad groups
Yes, click fraud is a problem. Yes, the search engines need to educate advertisers as to the differences between search engine advertising and contextual advertising. Yes, the search engines could take it a step further and isolate search engine ads from content ads. Since they don't, it's imperative for advertisers to take matters into their own hands and to structure their search engine advertising accounts in order to minimize click fraud.
Update: This blog entry has been published as a Search Engine Guide article.
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