17 September 2005

Viet Cong and Click Fraud

You might not think this is funny. When I was in high school I used to read about these bad guys called the Viet Cong (VC). While searching for occurrences of "click fraud", I found this post called A VC: Internet Axis of Evil (continued) where a VC named Fred Wilson lists Click Fraud as one of the Internet Axis of Evil. Now I don't live and breathe the jargon of the Valley, since I live in Melbourne, Oz. So it took a few seconds to register that Fred wasn't the kind of VC that I instinctively think of.

It is reassuring to see a growing awareness of this problem but this awareness is minuscule. Taking the world of PPC advertisers, I suspect that the majority is not even aware of the problem. My day job involves running a department that sells search engine marketing services to the SME sector. Many say to my staff, "I am wasting $xxxx on Overture/Google/whatever" - either they don't know how to write ads or to bid wisely, or they have experienced click fraud - or all the above.

Then there is the sceptical segment that says, "Yes, it has got to exist but is it really a problem?". This segment can be turned into true believers if only they found a way to track their clicks. I hang out (when visiting the US or online) with some of the identities at Webmasterworld and many of them make tidy sums in the affiliate marketing game. Some use PPC ads to drive traffic. With 1-2 exceptions, the rest are singularly not interested in the click fraud problem. This ostrich mentality is troubling.

The final segment includes our friendly VC in New York, John Battelle, a few others, and me. Perhaps you too. Please comment on why don't PPC advertisers want to know about click fraud.

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