The rise in click fraud is a real cause for concern (MW last week) and companies now need to reassess their pay-per-click advertising campaigns to make sure that they do not become the latest fraud victims.
Undoubtedly there are some companies that take great pleasure in clicking their competitors’ links when they first set up a Google AdWords campaign, but this is not really a serious problem. The fun soon wears off, especially when companies realise that their competitors are probably doing the same to them. The real threat actually comes from the automated click-fraud “bots” which are increasingly widespread, and with more and more PCs around the world now “owned”, the opportunities to commit click fraud are significant.
Companies need to protect themselves by limiting their daily spend on cost-per-click campaigns and by undertaking regular trend analysis which will quickly reveal if someone is trying to hurt them. Significant traffic from one region or internet provider range is relatively easy to deal with, if the right controls are in place. Unless companies start to put more rigorous processes in place to help them analyse and understand the clicks they receive, then the click-based advertising business could soon spiral out of control.