More Click-Fraud Fearmongering

The WSJ takes a small business perspective on click fraud this morning, doing the usual anecdotal empiricism thing of citing a few small-business owners who think they have been the victim of fraudulent clicks. Perhaps more worrisome for the PPC business is that the WSJ quotes approvingly someone who says that cost-per-action ads are a possible replacement.

There continues to be more noise here than substance. But without a loud, public defense at some point from Yahoo, Google, et al., the real risk is that the PPC search vendors gradually lose a perceptual default decision, with it becoming “a given” that pay-per-click ads are risky business, perhaps too risky for many companies.


  1. Given that you know exactly what you spent and how much money you got from that spend how is that risky? Radio, TV and print advertising on the other hand is nearly worthless. You spend a lot of money for little to no results.

  2. Does the WSJ mention that PPC makes their own business model obsolete? I didn’t think so…

  3. Yea, the WSJ should talk. What jerks. PPC is already a step more difficult for us small publishers on the web than PPM ads and even per impression ads offer equal or better visibility than conventional print advertising. Realizing that even click fraud (unless it’s done by a bot) results in a person viewing your company web page, a small business owner should realize that it’s at least as good as a print advertisement and has the potential to drive a real customer. I think it’s worth it to invest in net marketing. People are just afraid of change. They like to find all that’s wrong with the new stuff without looking at the inherent flaws in the current system.

  4. The question isn’t how many people view your site, it’s how many people you convert to paying you through your site. In that, the anecdotal reports I’ve heard are that for most businesses, click through ads aren’t as effective as often claimed. Combined with perceptions of fraud, this won’t kill the market, but will drive down ad rates (and that’s going to hurt Google’s bottom line.)
    (I recently worked at a company that had very good success in 2002/2003 with click-through ads. But then it trickled off somewhat; I suspect it was a combination of the interested already clicking them and the ads themselves becoming so ubiquitous that they blended into the background of the user experience.)