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Click fraud is getting more attention and media coverage lately. And now there's a cottage industry emerging around the perceived problem.

My question is: Will this motivate or accelerate a move to an alternative model (e.g., cost per lead/action) that is perceived to be closer to a conversion?

Search engine and vertical directories Knowledge Storm and ServiceMagic, among others, are promoting different models (cost per action/lead) than "traditional" pay per click. Pay-per-call is a kind of cost per lead model too (making the assumption that a call is a bona fide lead).

With Snap, the "action" can be a site registration, a conversion, a verified contact with a business — it depends on the context. In the case of Knowledge Storm, the would-be buyer/prospect has to fill out a bunch of fields that generate information to the seller/vendor. Service Magic puts its users through a relatively rigoruous "diagnostic" interview process so that the eventual lead delivered to the contractor is highly qualified.

Pay per call offers a cost-per-lead model (putting aside wrong numbers and telemarketers) by virtue of the fact that there's a warm body on the phone and merchants (esp. service SMEs) perceive a higher degree of credibility with calls vs. clicks.

It remains to be seen how big the click fraud PR problem becomes and whether sites such as Snap move to exploit it and/or whether there's a grass roots advertiser demand for a cost-per-lead/action model as a result.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars annually spent on cost-per-click advertising, I am honeslty shocked that I've never heard a significant allegation of fraud or mischief in this area. My firm does Adword purchases for more than a dozen companies, and all of them ask about how they can protect themselves against fraud. I haven't been satisfied with my own answer. Anyone have a good answer?

  2. The engines say they're policing it, but don't publicize those efforts too much for fear, I guess, of callling attention to the underlying issue.

    If you do a search for "click fraud" you'll now find dozens of companies that are offering "solutions" and systems to monitor the legitimacy of clicks.

  3. My thoughts are that any advertising medium where you have concerns over quality issues may not be the best place for your money. I have personally used two of the "big names" in pay-per-click services and presently have ceased using both. Initially everything went well. However I had experienced increasing spikes in click-throughs without a correlating increase in follow-up contacts. My efforts to contact their customer service people with stats and questions were not taken seriously nor addressed in specificity. In short my ROI dropped far beyond accepatble and the service provider seemed to have no real concern. I have moved on and don't envision going back until I am convinced that my PPC investment is protected.

  4. I think it's really going to loom larger and larger unless something proactive and effective is done about it.

    Thanks for your comments.

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