This past Sunday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article referencing a “crisis” in online advertising. The crisis centers on the increasing prevalence of fraudulent Web traffic, and the price marketers are paying for it.
Without question, fraudulent traffic is a major issue facing digital marketers in 2014. Still, there are several ways to limit the negative impact of fraudulent Web traffic on your online marketing performance.
1. “Invalid Click” reports on Google AdWords & Bing Ads
Google and Bing have very sophisticated measures in place to protect advertisers against “click fraud” or “invalid clicks.” When their system determines that an individual click on your ad was fraudulent, they log it in an invalid click report, and you are not charged for the click. If a certain campaign is regularly receiving invalid clicks, you should consider refining your targeting to exclude offending IP addresses, ad placements, and risky ad networks.
2. Use Cost Per Click (CPC), not Cost Per Impression (CPM) Bidding
As the name suggests, Pay Per Click advertising is inherently less susceptible to fraud, due to the fact that we only pay for clicks, not impressions. By opting for a CPC model, rather than a CPM (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions) model, you remove some of the incentive for inflated and fraudulent impression counts. Because of the systems mentioned above, it’s much tougher for bad actors to fake a click than an impression.
3. Factor some waste or fraud into your estimates
Unfortunately, we’ll never be successful in completely ridding the Internet of fraud. As the WSJ article says, there are far too many real customers online to be scared away by the fake ones. Rather, as marketers, we at times have to factor in a certain amount of “waste” or fraud into our plans. If we’re making our clients $5 or every $1 in ad spend, a small amount of fraud can be tolerated, because the overall spend is profitable.
Perhaps the best point in the article is where the author states that marketers are becoming “more aggressive in monitoring how their money is spent.” It can’t be understated how important it is to closely monitor your online marketing activity. Whether you have the resources to handle it in-house, or need to enlist an agency’s expertise, this should be a priority for 2014.
So, is this really a “crisis,” as suggested? Maybe. But, by taking a few simple steps, you can regain control of your digital marketing presence, and take a stand against fraudulent Web activity.
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