Is Pay Per Click Fraud Really That Bad?

I was thinking about pay per click advertising today while checking one of my accounts.

It occurred to me that we keep seeing a lot of information online about rampant pay per click fraud and abuse with rates as high as 30%. I wanted to draw some comparisons and then decide if some abuse or fraud isn’t already there with other mediums of advertising.

Why is the discussion of click fraud or pay per click fraud so important? For the first time in the history of advertising (this includes all web statistics) you can track a visitor down to an IP address…and with geo-tracking, you track a visitor almost to their doorstep. You could never do this with radio, TV, or print advertising.

We talk about pay per click fraud so strongly, because for the first time, we can actually determine if some type of fraud exists. Probably the worst kind would be a competitor going to someone’s ads and continuously clicking them to deplete whatever budget was in place for their advertising. That is the type of fraud that needs to be stopped. A second type of click fraud are online publishers who click on their own ads or use software to generate clicks to artificially inflate potential earnings.

Let’s look at some other examples and see how they compare with pay per click; several months ago, I was involved in a small local trial of TV and Internet advertising combined…a powerful combination already being used. We chose a schedule for local advertising on several channels that fit our budget. Shortly thereafter we received a schedule. I don’t know TV advertising lingo, but we had ad spots that got dropped or didn’t run. My point is that this happens regularly with TV and radio.

When we talk about TV and radio advertising we talk about the number of “potential� listeners or viewers. What happens when all those viewers or listeners don’t tune in? What do we do when TV and radio spots get dropped, technical difficulties, etc., etc? We don’t cry advertising fraud.
What happens when we pay for print advertising and “all� the copies don’t get delivered? Or they don’t “all� end up in someone’s hands? How does this get checked or enforced? But, it happens all the time. We just accept this as a normal part of advertising. We pay for it, but quietly accept that the distribution network is really working and the numbers are accurate.

My point for saying all of this is that I think there will always be a certain amount of wasted clicks with online advertising, but I don’t that we should categorize it all as fraud or pay per click abuse. Dollar for dollar, my customers all tell me that pay per click and online advertising has shown the most consistent results for driving new business and good ROI…even with the reports we hear about pay per click fraud.

What are your thoughts or questions about pay per click abuse? Share your views with our visitors.