What every SMB should know about Click Fraud

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Posted by Brawlin Melgar

by David Utter

The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization and Fair Isaac will partner on preparing an in-depth study on click fraud.

DM News reported on the SEMPO and Fair Isaac pairing, which will attempt to fill the need for an authoritative study on click fraud.

"We found that the level of concern about click fraud year over year went up ... and that one of the major concerns advertisers have is the value they are getting from search," SEMPO chairman Gord Hotchkiss, also known for his work at Enquiro, said in the report.

To help construct the study, members of SEMPO can choose to contribute click-stream data to the project, the article said.

The project will provide analysis of that data for possible click fraud.

The potential of click fraud disrupting the legitimate business of search marketing poses concerns to the companies that profit handsomely from it.

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all make billions annually from search advertising. 

Concerns about click fraud, where advertisers pay for ad clicks that come from unscrupulous sources instead of legitimate web traffic, has grown in scope.

Google settled a click fraud lawsuit in Arkansas for $90 million. Yahoo has faced accusations of spyware-powered click fraud occurring with its Overture campaigns.

These and other concerns have led to calls for greater transparency into the operations of the search engines.

Due to the potential for exposing trade secrets, those calls have been rebuffed. But with the billions involved in search advertising, the search engine companies will continue to face demands for greater access to information related to click fraud.

At one time, advertisers were not as concerned about click fraud. SEMPO's report on The State of Search Engine Marketing for 2004 found that marketers believed spam in search results posed more of a problem than click fraud.

Smaller marketers demonstrated more concern than bigger ones in SEMPO's study on the topic of click fraud. The concerns marketers expressed about search spam have probably been supplanted by click fraud for reasons like the growth in the number of search advertisers, and improvements in the ways search engines handle spam.

Junk results in the search engines have been a complaint of users and marketers alike. Companies like Google and Yahoo solicit feedback from their users regarding their search engines, and dedicate resources to improving those results.

About the Author:
David is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.