by Ron Cripps

Pay Per Click or what is known as PPC is a method of online advertising that is utilized on web sites (like blogs for example) as well as search engines and advertising networks. Merchants put up ad content with a variety of such web hosts and the host is remunerated only if and when their ad is clicked. The words “pay per click” factually means what it says: the Merchant pays every time a visitor clicks on the ad.

Google, Yahoo! and all the added PPC companies substantial and small are at the moment sucking up millions or even billions of dollars in ad revenue based partially on the belief that clicks are a dependable, quantifiable assessment of consumer interest. But with so much cash up for grabs the Pay Per Click marketing arena has not unsurprisingly attracted armies of scam artists whose tricks have the capability to honestly erode consumer confidence.

Click fraud happens when a person, automated script, or computer software application imitates a legal consumer of a internet browser clicking on an ad for the objective of generating a charge per click without having real interest in the target product or service of the ad’s link. Despite the fact that it is hard to watch and keep under control, a number of search engines have developed automated systems that endeavor to protect against these practices with varying degrees of effectiveness, but still the most highly developed of them are not infallible.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that the advertisers themselves benefit financially from such fraud. The biggest networks play 2 roles, as PPC providers and as publishers themselves (via their search engines), which can create conflicts of interest. For instance, whilst a PPC network will lose money to click fraud when it makes payment to a publisher, it more than makes up for it when it collects money from an advertiser, so indirectly, the PPC Network profits from click fraud.

Click fraud can be something as rudimentary as creating a trivial Web site, becoming a publisher of ads, and clicking on those ads to create revenue. Frequently the quantity of clicks and their worth is so insignificant that the fraud goes undetected. Larger-sized frauds entail running scripts which which try to make it look like a human clicking on advertisements featuring in web pages on a widespread scale.

An additional cause of click fraud is what are known as non-contracting parties, these parties are not part of any pay-per-click agreement.

Here are a few instances of non-contracting parties are:

Marketing competitors – By knowingly clicking on their competitors ads (by this means they are forcing them to pay for worthless clicks) they can weaken them or even put them out of business, even if they aren’t profiting directly from this type of click fraud.

Publishing Competitors – Publishers may try to frame their competitors by making it appear as if they are clicking on their own Pay Per Click Ads, with their end game being that the advertising network closes their account.

Malice – Like the types of individuals who intentionally exploit and then email computer viruses, some will take part in click fraud not for monetary gain simply to make a publisher and/or advertiser look bad for which ever reason.

Friendship – Sometimes when the friends and/or family of publishers find out that their friend’s business makes money when their ads are clicked on, they may possibly elect to do this themselves, thinking that they are helping out. If they overdo it however, they can do more harm than good when the publisher is accused of being involved with click fraud and has their account closed.

While advertising networks make every effort to end fraud by all such parties it’s often challenging to know which clicks are legitimate. More often than not the best an advertising network can do is to identify which clicks are most likely fraudulent and not charge the account of the advertiser.

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