Featured Article: It’s Pay Back Time
For Click Fraud
by Boris Mordkovich
If somebody were to tell you that 20% of your advertising
budget was being wasted on fraud, would you be worried? If
you advertise on pay-per-click search engines, such as Google
AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture), MIVA,
or others, you have a reason to be concerned.
According to industry metrics, up to 20% of all pay-per-click
activity delivered to advertisers is fraudulent. Two of the
most common sources include competitors trying to deplete
your account by repeatedly clicking on your ads or a search
engine’s partner or affiliate increasing his own bottom
line by clicking on your ads.
Whatever the source, the situation is even more complex because
search engines never reveal their click fraud monitoring tactics.
In fact, most simply state that they use a number of methods
designed to filter out repetitive or invalid clicking and
ensure that all clicks reported to their advertisers are genuine.
However, for security reasons, they cannot disclose details
of their protection methodology, nor give any visual or system
clues to indicate that click protection is active.
What does this mean to the advertiser? Basically, as an advertiser,
you have to rely on the effectiveness of the search engine’s
fraud monitoring techniques. However, given that they actually
stand to gain financially from fraudulent clicks (since your
ad account is charged each time any click is made on the ad),
this apparent conflict of interest by search engines is a
tough pill for advertisers to swallow.
Fortunately, there are a number of third-party tools available
to monitor your ad campaigns and track potential fraudulent
activity, for a nominal monthly fee. They include AdWatcher.com,
WhosClickingWho.com, and ClickLab.com. These tools analyze
every single click on your ad(s) and let you know if they
detect suspicious activity.
The question of the day, however, is what to do once a third-party
tool tells you it has detected click fraud? What’s the
correct process to follow to get your money back?
The following is a step-by-step guide to help ensure a refund
from the search engine:
If fraud is detected using a 3rd party auditor, we recommend
that you submit click fraud reports about once a month, since
it takes time for the search engine to process and investigate
them. This way, keeping track of the status of your refund will
be less time consuming and easier for both sides.
- Gather up all of the information you have on the fraud
occurrences over a specific timeframe. You will need the
ad campaign name, IP addresses, referring pages, geographic
origin of the clicks in question, keywords that were searched
for, the number and times of the clicks, and any other relevant
data required by your search engine to process a claim.
Server logs are usually very helpful, and your web-hosting
provider should allow you the option to access them.
- According to guidelines from Google, Yahoo, and other
search engines, you should also include a paragraph describing
the trends in logs and/or reports that have led you to believe
the click activity is invalid.
- Once all the information is ready, contact the search
engine. Here’s a sample click
fraud investigation request letter. If you have an account
representative, forward the data to him or her. If not,
we highly recommended that you ask for an account representative,
as it is easier to deal with the same person on an on-going
Alternatively, you can also send in the claim request to
an email address specific to the search engine, such as:
Google AdWords: email@example.com
(or use their Contact form)
Yahoo! Search Marketing: firstname.lastname@example.org
(or use their Support Center)
Other search engines have relevant contact procedures on
- After you submit the information, you will likely receive
a response similar to one of these from a low-level representative:
||They have conducted the investigation, found the
clicks fraudulent, and will issue the credit to your
||They are requesting additional supporting information,
such as your traffic trends, server logs, etc.
||They may refuse to acknowledge that the clicks were
fraudulent. Unfortunately, this happens quite often,
as search engines are reluctant to admit click fraud
has made it through their monitoring system (for example,
Google never refers to clicks as “fraudulent”,
just “invalid” –
- If scenario a) or b) occurs, follow whatever instructions
If c) occurs, ask to speak to your contact’s supervisor.
It may require numerous emails and/or phone calls to accomplish
this, but remember – don’t take the first “no”
as a final answer. You are, in effect, asking the search
engine to hand over part of their profits,
which is not something they likely will easily agree to.
Click fraud is a growing problem for many advertisers –
no matter how much your monthly spending on pay-per-click
advertising is. To make sure that you are not a victim, it’s
necessary to take matters into your own hands, detect click
fraud, and claim the refunds you are entitled to.
Boris Mordkovich is the Director of Operations
at AdWatcher.com –
an ad tracking and click fraud auditing service.
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Success Story: Increase of
10 to 200 visitors per day in 3 months
Pty Ltd is one of the fastest growing business
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Prior to providing search engine optimization
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How to improve website
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Having been impressed by Apex Pacific’s technology
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After 3 months of the implementation of CorpRat’s
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