There's been a fair bit of talk recently about click fraud – “malicious” or “artificial” clicks and clicks not conducted in “good faith”.
One US retailer has filed a lawsuit accusing Google, Yahoo!, AOL and several other companies with knowingly overcharging for pay- per-click (PPC) advertising.
What's all the fuss about? Is it just hype or is there actually a fire burning out of control in the PPC search engine room?
PPC search engine advertising has enjoyed huge growth over the past four years and, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the paid search model is now the fastest growing form of Internet advertising.
Amidst the great success of PPC search engine marketing, however, there's a mixed message.
Some ad vendors have reported that click fraud is not a problem at all. Others have described it as a digital form of shoplifting that's just a part of doing business. A growing number of concerned ad buyers have protested that click fraud is rampant and staggering. Who do you believe?
What is clear is that on the upside of PPC marketing, in a few minutes popular keywords can register hundreds of clicks … On the flip side, those clicks can be registered by fraudsters.
The first real admittance of a serious problem came in December 2004 when CNN/Money quoted Google's Chief Financial Officer, George Reyes, as saying, click fraud is the “biggest threat” to the Internet economy.
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If you're paying $50 or more for your PPC ads, it would be a wise investment for you to independently monitor your clicks with this new technology.[UPDATE: This offer has closed.]