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How To Protect Your Pay-Per-Click Campaign

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Have you protected your pay-per-click campaign against Click Fraud? Are you aware of steps you can take to protect yourself against it?

While Google and Yahoo claim that they have very stringent anti-fraud measures installed enabling their systems to filter out fraudulent clicks, still Click Fraud is occur significantly.

Some estimate it at 5%-15% of pay-per-click transactions while others estimate it to as high as 20%-35%.

Click Fraud, to put it simply, is a crime where a person clicks a pay-per-click ad for the purpose of earning for himself income from clicking the ad instead of a genuine interest in the ad itself.

Some even make use of powerful computers and complicated programs to simulate the clicking process and thus generate huge money for them. In short, it is a crime where the victim is the unsuspecting pay-per-click online advertiser.

Click Fraud has been the subject of much hype and the attention of authorities because of the extent of the crimes that have been committed, the increasing litigation related to this crime and because huge advertising networks like Google and Yahoo are seeming beneficiaries of Click Fraud.

Of course, Google and Yahoo deny all of these and insist that their systems are able to detect fraudulent clicks and that they are able to issue a refund if a client is erroneously billed or not bill the fraudulent transactions at all.

Still, one should protect one's self against these illegal and malicious acts. It is not easy and if you are not up to the technical savvy that is required or if you just don't have the time, you may find it more convenient to go to a professional.

There are a number of service providers and companies that specialize in this area. If you want to do it on your own, there are technical requirements such as tracking tools, access to server logs and knowledge of some analysis tools and techniques.

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One indicator of possible fraud is an increase in traffic that is not matched by an increase in conversions.

As an advertiser, your goal in advertising is to generate conversion, i.e., sales, income, leads or other benefits from your web site.

If you suddenly observe a huge volume of clicks without a corresponding increase in your conversion rate, this could be a warning sign.

Further analysis can be done such as looking for patterns such as IP addresses, geographic area, one or a few computers, browser versions, and operating systems.

You must be aware though that criminals use a variety of tactics, some of which are not readily visible to the untrained person.

If you suspect Click Fraud, you can claim a refund or credit from the advertising network. Some recommended guidelines when reporting suspected Click Fraud follow:

Clearly state in your claim that you are reporting suspected Click Fraud and provide a detailed statement of your claim.

Do not forget to include details such as the keyword, ad and campaign where you suspect the Click Fraud has occurred, time, date and suspected IP addresses.

(You should include any reports from any software tools or third party provider to support your claim.) Include your account details but not your password or payment information. Finally, clearly state whether you are requesting a refund, credit or an investigation.

Minimize Your Risk!

As a pay-per-click advertiser, your goal is to get conversions and not just the clicks. One practical and efficient way to avoid Click Fraud is to narrow down your target market. Properly define its demographics (location, time zone, gender, education, etc.)

The more you limit your ad exposure to a particular market, the less likely your ad will be targeted by criminals.

The contained and limited market increases the likelihood of their getting caught more easily. On the other hand, such intelligent targeting will render your ad campaigns much more effective.

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