Controlling Click Fraud

Click fraud is a growing problem for businesses of all sizes that rely on online advertising to drive traffic and sales leads to their Web sites. With the increasing sophistication of online fraud, bogus clicks cost businesses money and can drain their marketing budgets.

While the search engines and advertising coalitions are working on a solution, what can small businesses do to help mitigate click fraud’s effects? Monitor your click advertising account. Be on the lookout for volume and patterns that differ from the past, especially spikes in click volume without a corresponding spike in sales.

Work with your provider. When budgets are small, every penny counts. If you notice something amiss, contact your advertising service provider and ask him take a hard look. Don’t be afraid to ask for a credit or refund if you believe it is warranted.

Complement your current campaign. Look into other Internet advertising models that are more impervious to click fraud—both "Pay Per Call" and "Cost Per Action" models have been picking up steam. Due to the nature of the systems that power these products, fraudulent activity is greatly minimized or even eliminated. Another up side—phone calls often bring in more productive sales leads.

Although unfortunate, click fraud is not insurmountable. There are ways to help alleviate the impact of fraud without forgoing your online advertising campaign altogether.

Marc Barach Chief marketing officer Ingenio, Pay Per Call San Francisco