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Ways to Identify and Tackle Click Fraud

Identifying and following examples of click fraud is the first step to eradicating the problem. Click fraud is a huge drain on the resources of advertisers operating nationally and internationally, estimated at about 30% of all paid ad spend per click. With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that search engines invest so much time and effort in designing solutions.

One way in which search engines and other providers of pay-per-click programs have attempted to combat the growing problem of click fraud is by introducing IP repeat algorithms. These formulas are designed to detect suspicious click patterns emanating from a single IP address, which can help uncover the existence of click farms and competitive sabotage, as well as identify potential fraudsters at the source.

However, there are a number of problems with this method of identifying fraudsters. First, fraudsters who connect via a dial-up modem, DSL line, or cable modem can almost completely bypass this check, because with each new online session, a new IP address is generated. In addition, there is a wide range of software available for changing IP addresses, which can again be used to trick the algorithm.

Cookies and session tracking are other methods by which search engines can attempt to uncover potential fraudulent activity, but again, there are ways to bypass them for fraudsters. A more comprehensive software is being developed, with profiles and reports on the browsing habits of each click to allow companies to track and monitor suspicious behaviors, although this can be considered by many as intrusive and inefficient that everything on a small scale is still likely to go unnoticed, based on the vast coverage of ads on the Internet.

Click fraud recently made headlines with a class action lawsuit against Google, prompting Google to offer $90 million as a potential settlement. Perhaps an acceptance of their responsibilities, Google’s offer goes somewhere to suggest the extent of click fraud, and its vast costs to the Internet economy. There are a number of self-help remedies that can be implemented to keep an organization out of trouble.

The first of these remedies is dependence on search engine optimization and organic lists. If a site is well and fully optimized, it could finally achieve a ranking that another site is willing to pay $2.50 per click. Similarly, with organically high rankings, there is no click-through rate, so the costs associated with PPC are not applicable.

Although the process is much more laborious and takes much more time to see the results, the SEO process is much cheaper in the long run, and with about 25-30% of all clicks made fraudulently, An organically high enrollment can save money that would otherwise be drained by click fraud for more beneficial reinvestment. Year after year, as the pay-per-click advertising market continues to grow and expand, click fraud will surely follow.

Unless an effective way to prevent click fraud is successfully developed and implemented, buyers will gradually lose confidence in the advertising medium and turn to more efficient and less expensive marketing methods, that would seriously hit search engines and potentially threaten the online economy as a whole.