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Search Engine Marketing - Are Those Clicks Real?

Google is now generating more advertising revenue that any individual television station or newspaper company in the World!  Pay-per-click (PPC) is the fastest growing segment of all advertising.  But how much of this revenue is legitimate? 
 
Click fraud is a real issue for all those using PPC search ads through Google and Facebook.  While it has haunted both companies since being released the experience of many of our Neto clients is that click fraud is still happening and neither Google nor Facebook have done enough to stop it.  I guess to some extent, why would they?
 
Running a successful PPC search words advertising campaign:
 
The ecommerce space is becoming significantly more crowded and competitive, so the concept of PPC search advertising is perfectly logically.  Unfortunately it can cost you a lot of money for very little return.  A successful PPC campaign needs to be:
 
1.     Clearly articulated around your key words
2.     Targeted to channels where your audience is operating in
3.     Have daily limits set for your spend
4.     Monitored weekly for stats to see how many click throughs are resulting in sales
5.     Analysed to establish the cost of acquisition for each new customer
6.     Have a program in place once you have acquired your new customer through PPC to interact with this customer into the future and ensure they remain a loyal customer
7.     Monitored for click fraud (www.clickreport.com.au)
 
Remember the price and placement for each ad is calculated by the search engine using complicated algorithms depending upon how much you want to bid.  So to some extent you have control over the ad but at the same time if you bid too low your campaign will not be successful.  And with some click through acquisitions costing between $30 and $50 you need to make sure you are making some great gross profit on your items or you are able to retain your new customers for a long while.
 
The amount of click fraud is difficult to ascertain however estimates have it running between 1 in 10 to 1 in 2.  At Neto we have certainly seen evidence of up to 20% (1 in 5) click fraud occurring.  Forbes quotes, Limited Run, which provides software to enable bands and music labels to sell physical products like records, said it was closing its Facebook account after finding that up to 80% of the clicks it got during a recent ad campaign on Facebook were likely generated not by real people but by bots.
 
So how does click fraud work?:
 
  • In its simplest form, click fraud can happen when a competitor instructs their staff to physically click on your ad several times every day.
  • Another form of click fraud is when bots are set up to automatically click on your ads.  So who is setting up these bots?  Your competitors, hackers, search engines?????
  • A more complex form of click fraud is a bogus ad click that exploits PPC advertising such as ads fed to websites and blogs from search providers such as Google.  The search engine indexes the content of the web site and matches it with relevant ads.  This is a kind of affiliate advertising where by the bloggers or companies can choose to host such ads and they split the revenue with the search engine, so there is a definite incentive for cheating.
 
Search words are certainly a good thing for the search engines.  If managed properly they can be a good thing also for on line ecommerce businesses but tread carefully!
 
And lastly, I am not sure about you but @ Neto we are still big fans of personal communication.  Yes, it does cost more to speak with a person but we find the relationships we build with our clients and their ultimate success is worth the extra effort and cost.  Many of our competitors make it extremely difficult to contact them.  As far as contacting Google and Facebook regarding click fraud and getting a refund, good luck!  We have had some clients contact Facebook recently only to have them say (via email) it was up to the client to prove the click fraud before they would do anything about it. 

Here are some of the best contact details for them anyway:
 
www.google.com/contact/ - which only offers communication through email forms and help forums.
 
www.facebook.com/help/?page=220217228006012 – which lists 5 ways FB users can get help but there are no phone numbers listed there either.
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