I find that most search marketers don’t know what to make of click fraud. They’ve heard the stories, but they have no idea whether it’s happening to them. It’s human nature to put risks out of our minds when we don’t know how to respond to them. Is that a safe way to deal with click fraud?
If you’re one of those with your head in the sand, start by understanding what you’re missing. Click fraud probably occurs more than you think—some estimates have placed click fraud at 20% of all paid search clicks. Click fraud is being contested in court. And click fraud has been the subject of scary insider stories that would give any search marketer pause.
I started thinking about click fraud again, when Forensics found a 14% click fraud rate in a recent study. But as that Search Engine Land article correctly points out, that 14% rate is the total fraud rate—not the amount that a search marketer pays. Search engines aggressively identify occurrences of click fraud and do not charge search marketers for those suspicious clicks. In fact, some reports say that click fraud’s cost to search marketers is around 2%.
So what does this all mean to search marketers?
I recommend thinking of click fraud as a cost of doing business, much like shrinkage in a retail store. Few retailers go out of business because of shoplifting, and click fraud is unlikely to doom your paid search campaigns. Focus on your return on investment, such as Lifetime Value calculations. If your campaigns are providing a sufficient return on investment, then don’t worry about whether a small part of your investment was actually wasted on click fraud.
It’s rare, but sometime ignoring a problem really can be OK.