Like others, she believed that she had good fortune when she saw that visits to her Web site were increasing because they were clicking on small Internet ads she had bought from the world’s most popular search engine. It cost her as much as $20 for each click, but the potential new business seemed to justify the expense. To her disappointment, she found out that those who were clicking on her ads actually did not care at all for any of her products.
She found herself in the clutches of an online scam known as click fraud, which is trying to squelch the online advertising boom responsible for the enrichment of search engines and their business partners. Merchants have to shell out money mainly because of a person who just clicks on an advertiser’s Web link under false pretenses. She claims that she spent hundreds of hours to see just how badly this scam is after it had just created huge losses for her budget and her sales.
Click fraud has gotten out of control, said the victim, who sells computer software to doctors. How much click fraud incidents are going on in the $3 billion search engine advertising market cannot be estimated. Click fraud may be around, but it does not have to cause a big worry. Of all the clicks that are being made online, people estimate that around 10 to 20 percent are done under false pretenses.
We can describe click fraud as an extremely huge elephant that is comfortably settled in a living room. People can see that it is there but people won’t know how to handle this kind of scenario. The top search engines explain that if internal controls were improved and advertisers would show more vigilance, then the problems that come with click fraud would eventually disappear. No significant issue has sprung up yet from this, yet it is already something that has caused a lot of worry. Analysts were told by the chief financial officer of one search engine that a scheme responsible for several false transactions has been stopped since the staff was expanded to patrol click fraud.
Positioning and politicking are taking place. While the industry won’t be destroyed by click fraud, it will still remain to cause problems. Click fraud was something she said she never knew about until a former employee, as a competitive strategy, began to make numerous clicks on her ads.
These deceptive clicks went past the boundaries of her budget, thus removing her ads from display. Search engines have made refunds for these false clicks, but she said that these don’t make up for missed opportunities to sell things.
A lawsuit was filed against the advertising partner of a search engine by the search engine itself, and this shows that the trust between the two parties was broken somehow. The Houston based search engine did not confirm nor deny its involvement in getting $50,000 in illegitimate commissions through clicking of ads links that it had brought to the Web pages of a former company. A default judgment was won by the search engine because the site was closed down. The battle against click fraud doesn’t end with this suit, claimed the attorney of the company.
It’s only a matter of time before a major search engine is sued by an advertiser who cannot anymore handle the problems being caused by click fraud. The idea is spreading fast as sellers are aware of higher returns they may get from search engine ads as compared to print advertising.
In 2008, an industry research firm predicted $7 billion is to be spent on search engine advertising, up from just $108 million in 2000. Search engine advertising is now experiencing success, thus resulting in an increase in prices. When last year ended, around a dollar was being paid by advertisers for the hundreds of keywords tracked.