Click Fraud Network: Too Little Too Late, or Just in the Nick of Time?
For publishers who charge online advertisers via a pay-per-click (PPC) model, if you aren’t aware of click fraud listen up, or take a look at the Click Fraud Network. The site could be an awesome resource, but so far doesn’t seem to be living up to its potential with a limited amount of discussion threads on what should be a very hot topic.
Charging (or paying) for erroneous clicks on advertising messages continues to be somewhat overlooked in the billion-dollar Internet advertising mix. Depending on which “expert” you talk to, there are estimates floating around that 10-50 percent of all ad clicks are bogus and come from rival companies, computer hacks and other methods.
So how can you prevent your advertisers from experiencing click fraud?
Your ad server (and you’d better be using one!) should have built-in click fraud detection that at least red flags successive clicks from one IP address. Simply defined, an IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique set of numbers assigned to your computer so it can communicate with other computers, for instance, a Web site.
Besides having built-in click fraud protection, your ad server should be able to exclude clicks (and ad impressions/views) from IP addresses that you don’t want counted. You can start by excluding the IP range of your own company in your ad server while also making sure that it doesn’t include “hits” from robots or spiders indexing your Web pages. In other words, non-human traffic.
Be careful, because you could get carried away with IP exclusions. For instance, do you plan on making sure all of your advertisers’ campaign reports don’t include clicks from their competitors? Larger advertisers that get their ads served through third-parties like DoubleClick’s DART or Atlas are at their mercy, so step up and let your advertisers know that click fraud is important to you and that it should be just as important to them.
Of course, some will argue that click fraud isn’t a big deal, or that click fraud is a reason to charge advertisers a different way, maybe by CPM (cost-per-thousand) impressions, by lead, by new customer acquisition, or even a flat rate based on traffic, position or exclusivity.
It amazes me that Google has done so well making billions of dollars on a “per-click” model, but what’s not surprising is its move to other pricing models as they continue to fight click fraud accusations in the courts and elsewhere.