Ideas For Preventing Click Fraud

ML Sep 25, 2006

So, I just read the BusinessWeek article on click fraud, and it’s interesting that the figure they open up with is the calculated loss of $100,000 in almost 4 years. Contrast this with Gary Beal’s disclosed projected savings of $90,000 to his client in one year, using HitTail keyword tool in his AdWords campaigns. So, how might one avoid click fraud of and achieve some savings? And is HitTail actually a path to reversing click fraud?

To avoid the type of large-scale click fraud described in the article, simply put, keep your ads from running across the AdSense network, where site owners have incentive for the ads to be dishonestly clicked. In the AdWords interface, you can add new campaigns as keyword-targeted or site-targeted. With keyword-targeted, you can have your results come up only in search, only in the AdSense network or both. You’re only susceptible to click fraud when it’s on the AdSense network. With site-targeted, you choose which sites you want your ad to appear on the AdSense network, and are automatically susceptible to click fraud.

So, to avoid click fraud, simply constrain your campaigns to search… but you lose out on having ads run across the Internet. So, it’s a trade-off to see if it’s worth it. It turns out that in some industries, where the cost-per-click and site revenues are potentially highest, you are most susceptible to click fraud.

There’s a different kind of click fraud hardly discussed in the article, which is clicks by competitors to deplete your advertising budget. The way to deal with this is to set a daily spending limit and to disperse your clicks throughout the day (a control in the user interface). By doing that, you minimize daily risk (your whole budget cannot be wiped out) and frustrate clickers (ads stop being served until you come back later that day).

But even more you can do to protect yourself is to use lucrative, but difficult-to-guess keywords in your campaign, so competitors just don’t know what to type in to get your ad. And Gary Beal taught us that keyword lists exported from HitTail have just that effect. You reach a much broader array of your potential customers by producing way more impressions. But simultaneously, you do this with a much broader array of effective keywords that confounds competitors because they cannot be easily guessed.

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