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Click fraud: The inside story?

The click fraud news just won’t quit. Since I wrote my March Biznology newsletter, we’ve seen court cases against both the search engines and the alleged defrauders, but now there’s something new. Joe Holcomb, a Senior VP at BlowSearch, has written an entry in his personal blog that reveals some scary possibilities.


Joe is an insider in the paid placement industry, and as such his opinion carries more weight, but it is still just one voice. Nevertheless, his post may confirm some of the fears of search marketers that click fraud really is spiraling and may be as hard to stop as I speculated in my March newsletter.
Joe baldly states, as I believe, that click fraud from competitors is not nearly as big a problem as people think. Joe says that automated click fraud is a huge problem and that search engines don’t really want to dwell on that.
Joe further charges that search engines can’t stop click fraud and know that they can’t, and that they handle individual complaints from advertisers but don’t issue wholesale credits to others based on reports from a few. It is frankly not in their business interest to do so. He thinks that the estimates of 20% of all clicks being fraudulent may even be low!
Joe may be biased in his role with BlowSearch, but he disagrees with my assertion that the larger search engines do a better job of policing click fraud than smaller players—Joe claims that none of the vendors have a handle on this growing problem. He believes (and it has some logic to it) that clever defrauders may be able to hide their fraudulent clicks more easily in the larger traffic volumes of the most popular engines. But he does say that the smaller players, such as FindWhat and Kanoodle, that syndicate their traffic to other sites may be more susceptible to click fraud. (Blowsearch does not do as much of that, as you might expect.)
In addition to the vendors that I mentioned in the March Biznology newsletter, Joe also mentions three more vendors that can help monitor click fraud for advertisers (I haven’t looked at any of them): TrackingROI, Clicklab, and Alchemist Media.
Read Joe’s post for yourself—it is worth your time if you are concerned about click fraud.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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