Paying only for clicks for online search advertising seems like an efficient proposition, but it can quickly become expensive when you factor in the broad array of variables involved in the equation. In particular, you risk potentially fraudulent clicks from your competitors and publishers who are seeking to earn financial advantages in the process (while harming your pocket book.) While many advertisers just write off click fraud as “the cost of doing business online”, it is important to understand the risks and, more importantly, ways to avoid becoming a victim of click fraud in the first place.
As a starting point, you should always assume you are potentially vulnerable to click fraud as an online advertiser, since there are nearly unlimited ways in which you can potentially incur unwanted costs. While there are some elements of click fraud within AdWords that are hard to avoid, you can actively take steps to lower your risk and potentially increase the return on your ad spend over time. While there are vendors that can provide expensive click monitoring services, these are only really viable for large scale advertisers who stand to benefit from the vast scale of the service in the first place. Since most advertisers don’t fall in this category, this guide provides an overview of how you can protect yourself through some basic steps to get more value out of your search marketing clicks.
Ensure Quality Clicks through Geo-Targeting
One of the most important steps you can take as an advertiser is to properly geo-target your campaign to a target market. While Google has a click filter that prevents certain types of clicks from costing your campaigns, you can open yourself to unwanted (if not fraudulent) clicks by opting for the default national (or regional) targeting on your campaigns. By focusing your geographical area within your target market you can immediately lower the potential risk from unwanted clicks by excluding IP regions that cannot readily become customers. For example, you can target by zip code, state, city (DMA) or a radius around a certain location – each of these options offer potential for ensuring real clicks to your marketing campaign.
Refine the Targeting Settings
While you are limited in your ability to exclude certain clicks from IPs you can limit the scope of clicks by also refining the targeting settings in your campaigns. You can show ads directly on only Google, opting out of “Search Partners” and “Content Networks” which can potentially show lower conversion rates due to click fraud. When publishing partners are involved in the search ads, this opens up potential for problems and can pose challenges to nearly any search campaign. As a result, you can better refine the targeting of your campaigns so you can ensure quality clicks from genuine potential customers. Importantly, there will be some clicks that come from prospects which don’t convert – optimizing your ads and landing pages can further help qualify potential visitors, even if the clicks are real. Taking a series of calibrated steps to improve your overall campaign performance can truly help to improve the Return on Invsetment (ROI) you get from your AdWords.