PPC Tips Written by 0

If you’ve ever been sucked in by a pay-per-click ad, don’t feel bad. That’s the goal of these advertisers, and if they do it right, they’re connecting consumers like you with the best products and services.

However, PPC ads are just as susceptible to fraud as any other type of advertising. This goes beyond click fraud; it can actually lead to stolen identities and cash.

The worst offenders engage in PPC ad impersonation. This happens when a hacker takes over a major URL (such as a or e-tailer) and instead puts up its own (unrelated) ads.

Most people think of click fraud when they hear “PPC fraud rings,” which is an automated attack and not an actual person. Click fraud basically creates fake clicks on ads to boost their revenue.

PPC impersonation goes beyond that: There’s a real person behind the scheme.

Increasing popularity

These days, ad impersonation is gaining on click fraud, which requires better controls on the part of search engines. There are now more cases of impersonation than click fraud, but search engines are only beginning to work actively with companies to spot it and remove it.

No industry or site is safe from impersonation (also known as URL hijacking) because it’s taking off.

Just one ad at a time is allowed to be displayed via the Display URL as part of sponsored search results. This means ad impersonation is costing the real brand owner dearly; it basically forces the company to compete against itself.

This boosts the cost per click while diluting ROI, and of course it destroys the ad message. People lose customers over this.

The whys

People commit ad impersonation for any number of reasons. Suppose an ad affiliate wants to get into direct linking, for example, which makes it easy to make money without doing the hard work.

The fraudster might own a phishing site and want information from consumers. It could be an affiliate not related to the affiliate program which wants to start “cookie stuffing” by pushing traffic through a link just to drop those cookies.

The impersonator could also be a competitor who wants to take down your PPC scores a peg. The best way you can spot impersonation is if a percentage of ads come from a certain imposter on a regular basis, or ads suddenly and dramatically spike.

Working with a reputable PPC management company is recommended.

Good to know

While absolutely any ad or industry could become a victim, the reality is that (unless it’s your competition), most fraudsters are looking for the highest ranking ads. This means those that include search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and keywords that are in high demand.

If you serve a particular niche market and don’t get much traffic anyway, you’re probably safer than a major retailer that fills thousands of orders a day.

Of course it’s always a good idea to play it safe, and means starting with a solid SEO strategy.

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