Campaign Against Click Fraud

How many times have you experienced having a pop-up interfere with your work? Sure, it’s annoying, but sometimes these pop-ups are too enticing to ignore. Hell, it might just be what you need. Because of necessity or just plain curiosity, almost everybody had clicked on a pop-up once. Some are just what they promised to be; good, old, pay per click marketing. A gateway to *myriad of gadgets* or fashion. But some are problems waiting to be operate. They could be spyware or adware. The majority, however, are just frauds. Clicking them leads users to non-existent web shops that drain your credit card or leads you to a totally different sites. But if you are annoyed, this is nothing to what the advertisers are experiencing. Real advertisers have to pay millions to fraudulent sites that accumulate lots of “clicks” without generating sales. Yep, the internet had become the breeding ground for a new type of fraud.

What is pay per click marketing and how do you recognize the frauds? Pay per click marketing or   PPC  marketing is a type of online advertising. Its purpose is to generate internet traffic to the advertisers’ websites. Advertisers put their banners on another website. These banners link directly to the advertisers’ page. The host websites are paid based on the amount of “clicks” the banners and advertisements received in the hosts’ pages.

The ease of marketing and connection had attracted unscrupulous groups to commit fraud. However, the internet marketing giants won’t let this be. After all, they will also suffer if the users became wary of clicking on online advertisements.

Two major advertising groups allied themselves with performance-dependent marketing providers in stepping up the drive against *internet fraud*. The group aims to come up with guidelines and regulations in an attempt to define “click” measurements and set barriers against online advertising frauds. These allied groups are the Interactive Advertising Bureau or IAB and the Media Rating Council or MRC. Major internet companies like Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, LookSmart, and Ask.com have joined the alliance. The alliance is working under the name Click Measurement Working Group. In addition to the major internet companies, invitations and proposals have also been sent to every IAB member.

The primary goal of the alliance is to establish an industry-standard “click” definition. This is very crucial since the payments for the host website are based on these “clicks.” The host sites and the advertising sites are set to lose much money without standard “click” definition. Currently, advertising sites pay host sites based on the frequency of “clicks,” even if these did not generate consumer traffic. Consequently, there are advertising sites that refuse to pay the host sites on grounds that the traffic from the host did not generate sales. The alliance is trying to set a definition that will apply in all aspects of internet marketing. Ad networks, host sites, search engines, and ad servers are also covered by the definition.

The alliance sought to differentiate between invalid and fraudulent “clicks.” Advertisers usually get the bad end of the deal where they pay their hosts millions even for unintentional and invalid “clicks.” This is not surprising because click fraud is the most common form of fraud in pay per click schemes. Even major companies like Google and Yahoo! weren’t exempted from being victims of these frauds. As proof of the intensity of their fight against click fraud, the alliance had sought the cooperation of advertising companies.

To further safeguard investment safety in online marketing, the alliance also aims to outline an auditing project. Reportedly, this will involve third party auditors and a certification plan. These would be the basis of all advertising campaigns. Under these provisions, both the host and advertising sites would be subjected to auditing to find out whether the “clicks” are balanced with the generated sales. The alliance hopes that this will forge transparency between the hosts and the advertising sites.

Nothing definite has been settled among the members of the alliance. But continued meetings and conferences are scheduled to continue the talks about click fraud. Resolving this issue would be a blessing to both camps and a good boost for the internet marketing industry. Aside from the two camps, the users and online consumers are the other beneficiaries of this development. If this campaign succeeds, the risks associated with internet businesses and transaction would be reduced greatly.

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