The Scourge of Click Fraud – Part III

Stopping Click Fraud

It’s important for agencies to take an active role in looking for and defending against click fraud. Granted, in an overall marketing/media mix, search may only be a minor percentage of the total budget, but isn’t it still imperative to maximize a client’s spend?

Aside from protecting and maximizing money though, you’ve also got to protect the brand for your clients. Often times, especially with big brands, a search campaign can often be about visibility and brand reinforcement. If you have to bring paid campaigns down because of click fraud, your whole strategy is shot.

Being aware of click fraud isn’t necessarily going to require your undivided attention, so don’t panic. The key to all of it, in fact a crucial component of any search campaign, is tracking. I’ll sing it from the mountains and yell in the valleys, you MUST track performance. In fact, I think you’ll get the same sermon from anyone in the search marketing game. The fact that you can measure countless metrics in a search campaign is one of it’s greatest strengths. If, however, you’re not tracking, then your campaign has serious holes, no matter what the strategy.

The field of conversion analytics tools is wide (disclosure – I’m closely associated with the linked site), varied, and full. Shop around, it won’t be hard to find exactly what you need.

Once tracking is in place, finding and stopping click fraud really isn’t all that difficult. Any good analytics/tracking package will help you see traffic patterns to a site. Pretty quickly, patterns will develop and you’ll have an expectation of an average day. Hopefully you’ll see jumps in traffic based on your marketing efforts. You shouldn’t see huge spikes though. Keep in mind, as I mentioned in an earlier post, a spike is generally very specific.

When you see possible fraud, the first and most important step is to stop bidding on the targeted term(s). This is a minimum step. It may be prudent to put an entire campaign on hold until you can determine the cause. Collect and analyze your traffic from log files. You should be able to see the originating IP address, the time of the visit, and the referring url. From this data, you should be able to pick out the suspicious traffic. When you’ve got a fairly thorough, and well investigated claim, PPC engines are generally very open and responsive about working with you.