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Dont Be a Victim of Click Fraud

Any business seeking to market themselves on the Internet in recent years has dealt with the concern of click fraud. Applications like Google AdWords put advertisers in a vulnerable position. Advertisers pay-per-click for their advertisements, meaning that each time their ad is clicked by a browser they must pay Google a specified amount of money. This would ostensibly seem like a normal business transaction; Google is providing a venue for advertisers and advertisers are paying to be noticed, but it is not that simple (or legitimate). Due to the logistics of pay-per-click third parties may have interest in clicking on advertisements a great number of times without sincerely wanting to check out the advertisement.

How its Committed
Click fraud is employed in both automated and human ways. A common method utilizes the use of online robots which are programmed to click on advertisers links. Another method perpetrated involves people being paid to click on advertisements from their homes. These two infringements may spawn from either the authors of the pages that the ads are displayed on (a portion of what the advertisers pay goes not only to the search engine but to the authors of the page as well) or from the search engines themselves. Each source would have an interest in more clicks because while the advertisers may only pay anywhere from $.05 to over $1.00 per click (which would not seem like a big blow to the pocket), over a period of time the amount due will become substantial.

"The duty to disclose knowledge of crime rests on all citizens."

A third source of click fraud involves competitors using bots, outside sources, or they themselves clicking on the competitions ads in order to run-up the bill. Some competition is very cut-throat with advertisers paying up to $15 a click for some high-end advertising. Committing click fraud at these rates can dramatically drain a competitors marketing dollars.

Problem for Everyone
Because the ads are arranged according to keyword searches, advertisers feel that this method of marketing is much more profitable and direct than billboards, magazine and newspaper ads. Obviously click fraud denotes a flaw in Googles ad system, but it may be costing Google money for their lack of foresight as well.

"Crime unpunished is crime multiplied."

A majority of Googles revenue is based on paid advertisement. Google has been refunding advertisers money when the incident of click fraud has been proven. If there is a constant need for present and incipient refunds, it will make it very difficult for Google to manage their own wallet. Google and other search engines that are experiencing click fraud on their stages have instituted fraud teams to monitor the illegality, but critics state that 20 percent of money being paid by advertisers is due to undetected click fraud.

What it Looks Like
A number of services have popped up to help combat the illegal activity. A good number of advertisers do not closely peer into the problem because it is just too complex to distinguish where sincere clicking stops and fraud begins. Technologies have been established to detect fraud by analyzing traffic logs or surf behavior; for example a page that is turned under 2 seconds over a period of time will raise suspicion.

Here is some suspicious activity to look into:

- A sudden rise in the total number of clicks on all keywords without there being a promotional or seasonal relationship

- Specific keywords suddenly make a dramatic jump for no reason

- A previously successful conversion rate undergoes a serious decline

- Visitors visit the site and then leave within the first few seconds

- An increase in international areas that have not been popular before

- Potential competitors clicking your ads

If You Suspect Being a Victim
If you suspect being a victim of click fraud, you need to gather pertinent information and report it to the search engine. There are several pieces of information you will need:

- Ad campaign name

- IP addresses

- Referring pages

- Geographic origin of the clicks in question

- Keywords that were researched

- The number and the times of the clicks

Depending on how well your information is organized and how much suspicious activity they have detected, the search engine may or may not agree to refund your money. Do not take no for an answer the first time or two. Ask to speak to supervisors and to have their information delivered to you so that you can match it against your own records.

"How could crime be reduced? If it caused as much resentment in those who are not its victims as in those who are."
Get Help
Remember that there are click fraud technologies companies employ. Services are established specifically to aid in spotting click fraud. These services will:

- Monitor your incoming traffic

- Analyze all clicks

- Detect suspicious activity

- Organize reports

- Assist in submitting reports to search engines

- Provide assistance in obtaining refunds


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