Tuesday, May 23, 2006

PPC's and Click Fraud: A Growing Problem

When I started affiliate marketing many months ago, I bought an eBook and followed its instructions on promoting products using pay-per-click services. We have talked a lot about Google Adwords and, those of you who are trying it, are probably finding that it is not trivial to use (and requires a bit of guidance). That leads us to the "other" PPC services. Like Overture, most PPC's are pretty straight forward and the ad placement goes to the highest bidder. At the beginning of my affiliate marketing, these sites were quite the gold-mine! I got a lot of clicks and relatively cheap rates (usually about 0.05 per click). It seemed too easy and I did get a lot of sales because of it!

But things have changed over the last few months. My high click rates stayed where they are (or even grew!) and my sales diminished. What the heck is going on? After a lot of research and link tracking, I started to realize that these clicks were not of high quality...if fact, they are probably a form of click fraud. Click Fraud is where someone clicks your links purely for profit for themselves. With the introduction of blogs these days, I believe that more and more people are becoming aware of online advertising and taking this knowledge to do bad things.

So what do you do? For now, I have turned most of my PPC campaigns off (except for Adwords and Overture). Think about it this way: If I am paying 0.05/click and I get 100 clicks, but only 10 of these clicks are of any quality, you are actually paying about 0.5/click! That will give you quite a bit of leverage on Adwords and Overture (with much higher quality!).

What about Adwords and Overture? Of course, click fraud happens here, but both of these outfits are much more advanced than the smaller ones and can pin-point click fraud more easily. Also remember that any half-way experienced online money marketer needs Google to be successful and to piss-off the Google Gods usually means banishment from all Google services (both Adsense and Adwords).

I suppose we are back to the basics:

1) Google Adwords
2) Yahoo Overture
3) Search Engine Optimization

Hey, it keeps us honest, right?