|The Little Fraud PPCs|
to use them or not?
We're having a big debate in our company about the little ppcs(I'm sure you all know who they are) where 75% of the clicks are fraudulent, although 25% are actual people.
Our conversion rate for that 25% is the same as our conversion rate for the major players.
Now, at OV/G our cost per click average is around $1. Our CPC for the little guys is $0.08. So, for $0.32 at the little guys, we still get a human visitor with the same conversion percentage. This actually makes the little PPCs more cost effective.
The debate is, if every advertiser pulled their ads from these little guys, then they'd have to fix their fraud problems as 25% of their current income is better than 0%. But as we all know, this will never happen, although shouldn't we give our money to only companies that actually deliver a quality product, and 75% fraud is not quality.
On the other hand, the little fraud PPCs make us money, and the almightly dollar speaks volumes at a company no matter how it's come by.
I'd like to win the argument and remove our dollars from these fraudulent companies, but I don't own the place, so I have to find a way to win the argument.
Anyone else go through this or have a good reason to quit giving money to fraudulent companies that actually make us money?
Thanks in advance for the input.
ROI always rules if looking from a pure business point of view and it seems you get a better roi even if you know fraud is happening. So I guess the real question is whether or not you personally can accept that there is more fraud from the little ones and just look at it from a strictly business point of view.
IMHO I would always look at it from the roi point of view and make the sales. It can only get better or the little guys won't be around any more :-)
>> This actually makes the little PPCs more cost effective.
Ummm, doesn't that line sort of answer the question? Just keep an eye on your ROI, and if it dips, dump 'em quick, and make sure that they know what you are doing / will do, try and keep 'em in line
How do you know that the smaller PPC traffic is fraudulent? Because there were no sales, or signups? This might be an indication that something else is wrong. justageek is right in that it's the ROI you should be monitoring. You'll be able to settle your company's internal argument with some cold hard data. I just did a search on Google for "internet advertising ROI calculator" and ROIspy.com is offering 30 days free of its service. It might be something to look at.
We consider traffic where the user spent less than 1 second on the site fraudulent, or where the same ip address is used more than once in a 1 minute span of time. The average G user spends around 10 minutes on the site, The average OV user spends 8 minutes, and the average Kanoodle/ah-ha visitor either spends more than 7 minutes (25%) or less than 1 second (75%).
I no longer bother with the peanut ppc's - I wasted far too much money with them. If they want to solve the fraud problem remove the ppc affiliate programs - not going to happen$$$$ I feel for the small companies trying to promote themselves online who are not wise to ppc fraud.
ewhisper - I appreciate your honest, ethical point of view, however, I want to respond to your comments and clarify that ah-ha.com specifically does not allow or participate in any incentivize traffic. I can assure you that 100% of your traffic is actual people searching and clicking on your link. Although fraud clicks do happen to everybody (even to OV/G), we have taken great step to ensure that each click that is charged to your account meets our strict quality standards. If we find any fraudulent or incentivized traffic we will end our partnership with that distribution partner and credit those clicks back to your account. ah-ha.com does not participate in the affiliate programs where partners can earn money by placing a search box and earning money through it. We are constantly investigating and purging search and distribution partnerships to ensure high quality traffic for you and other advertisers. If you feel you have had some fraudilent clicks, I would urge you to contact your ah-ha representative and have them investigate that traffic. Submitting your own log files can help to determine your validity.
ah-ha.com takes every possible action it can to make sure our traffic is of the highest quality.
I'm going to get into some specifics, trying to make it general enough to pass the www TOS to explain some of the reasons advertisers who don't look at all the server logs, see the smaller ppcs as problematic.
I'm not trying to put any one search engine down, I'm just trying to explain the reasons the smaller ppcs are seen as problematic and see if ah-ha, kanoodle, or any other of the smaller search engines can explain the reasons behind these numbers. I've used specific ah-ha numbers since their advertiser responded (thank you, btw), although the kanoodle traffic is almost identical.
One of the issues that causes ah-ha to also really look like it has issues (not counting server logs or other gathered info) is the hits we get from it.
On average, 15% of our clicks from OV/G are highly targeted hits (i.e. widget + u.s. state). 35% are semi targeted (blue widget, green widget). And the remaining 50% is branding, and general hits that do lead to enough conversions that they still bring in a profit. If I look through the numbers provided by OV's searches, wordtracker's searches, etc - these numbers are reflected fairly evenly in the total amount of searches done.
On ah-ha, we've gotten 3883 clicks for widget.
10 for blue widget
1 for widget + state.
So immediately we see a disparaging number in what the average person searches for according to the tracking services. We also see that the traffic is incredibly general compared to both other PPCs and even what are free search hits are.
Next, ah-ha doesn't have the reporting ability for one to know the ctr rate for individual keywords, and the total search terms, so this will be very generalized. It is considered common knowlege that G and OV have a larger reach than the smaller ppcs, and if they had some larger partners, then their reach would grow, and they wouldn't be considred the smaller ppcs.
Last month, on OV, the term widget (and my ctr for widget is 5 bars, 6.7% ctr) was hit 2300 times, it was hit 1398 times on ah-ha.
Now if we look at the audience reach (using nielson net ratings) we find the top search areas are (in order) google, yahoo, MSN, AOL, AJ, OV, IS, NS, AV. Of those, OV and G have multiple partnerships, ah-ha doesn't have any.
So the fact that I both get almost no targeted clicks from ah-ha, and the number of hits from ah-ha seem totally out of scale with it's parenterships, especially since it provides 60% as many clicks as OV, don't seem to have the proper coorelations whatsoever.
I'd very much like to read other's thoughts as to holes in my logic, or reasons why this traffic is legit, yet completely out of scale with the web search numbers.
And this post was way longer than I initially expected, so you must really want to know about ppcs to get this far down, hope some responses helps us all out.
In general ROI will be lower on general terms like 'widgets', which is where the majority of your traffic is coming from on the smaller PPC's. Is it possible that a searcher using a smaller PPC would tend to search somewhat more generically than someone using the big boys, especially knowing that those PPC results are often part of a large search engines results, which can almost infinitely be drilled down and refined? ie. If I am on MSN I can refine ad infinitum until I arrive at my precise term with 10 results and click there, but on Ah-ha's little affiliate site I quickly run out of results, forcing me to click on a more generic term, and discouraging me from attempting too much refinement in my queries in the future. If you get a disproportionate number of generic term searches you can expect a much lower ROI. Why not trim some generic terms and raise your ROI? Approach the little guys differently - I am not sure how valid the original comparison is.
Again, just my thoughts...
On ah-ha, we've gotten 3883 clicks for widget.
10 for blue widget
1 for widget + state.
Well, there's more to your stats:) When somebody searches for "free blue widget clip art" on Google or Overture, they have what they want. Paying advertisers naver see those surfers.
If they search for it on Ah-ha or other smaller PPC, they see only one link "look for free blue widget clip art on eBay". What do they do next? Most of them don't go to eBay to look for the clip art. Neither they go to Google. They search for "widget" and click on every link that is returned to see if the advertiserss sites have any "blue widget clip art". Or if they offer "free web hosting for amatour widget collectors". Or if they "accept second hand widget for charities."
If you bid on "widget" on a smaller PPC you have lots of useless hits. Genuine useless hits. If you bid on keywords like "cheap widget" or "buy widget online" or widget + state you have very high ROI and very little traffic. You can use smaller PPC or not, but there's no need to blame them or call them "fraud". Me thinks :)
|When somebody searches for "free blue widget clip art" on Google or Overture, they have what they want. Paying advertisers naver see those surfers. |
Both Google and Overture offer match options on their advertising that allow for these terms to be shown if you bid on 'blue widget', 'free widget', 'clip art', etc... so advertisers do get those searches all the time.
Ah-ha also offers advantage listings that are phrase matches, so if you bid on 'blue widget, 'clip art',etc,. and someone searched for "free blue widget clip art" then your ad would appear on ah-ha.
If you looked above, we consider fraud clicks ones where the visitor spent less than 1 second on the site. The last post was a comparision for people who don't look at logs and why nontechnical people would consider it either fraud or bad traffic.
A moct compelling posting!
Back in around 2000 (I think) I ran a campaign with a small PPC over a period of time I noticed a large disparity with what I was being charged and the actual traffic being received.
At the time I thought nothing of this and just assumed I was incorrectly tracking my visitors.
for other reasons I shut the account soon after and have never been back.
Looks like I never will go back based on whats been said, it makes perfect sense now.
|Both Google and Overture offer match options on their advertising that allow for these terms to be shown if you bid on 'blue widget', 'free widget', 'clip art', etc... so advertisers do get those searches all the time. |
Only a fraction of those searches. If such a searcher have a choice he/she clicks on a link titled "1000000 free clip arts", not on "blue widgets for sell". And they don't have this choice on a smaller SE.
|Ah-ha also offers advantage listings that are phrase matches, so if you bid on 'blue widget, 'clip art',etc,. and someone searched for "free blue widget clip art" then your ad would appear on ah-ha. |
Just wonder if you use this feature? Is it included in your statistic? I did some keyword research not long ago. I used Overture keyword suggestion tool to find search phrases that included my words of interest. When I looked them up at some second tier SEs, most of times I saw only one to three results, not always relevant, usually with very low bid price even for very commercial phrases. It was funny to see that if you add a word to a phrase the bid price go through the roof at Overture and drops to almost nothing at other SEs. The relevancy for non-commercial phrases was very low. Maybe your situation is different, but that was what I saw.
|If you looked above, we consider fraud clicks ones where the visitor spent less than 1 second on the site. The last post was a comparision for people who don't look at logs and why nontechnical people would consider it either fraud or bad traffic. |
I offered my opinion why the proportion of searches can be genuinly different in different SEs. I have logs of about half a million searches to play with and I see this conversion from "free blue widgets for poor kids in western nowhere" to "blue widget" again and again.
Another explanation can be different demography of the users, too. Different SEs, different audience, different proportions. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Ah-ah only serves family-safe results. Maybe one needs to be a very special person to search for something outside of major search engines, and their logic can't be expalined in general terms. There could be a thousand reasons why proportion of searches is different in different search engines.
As for ">1 second visits", I don't know how/what software you use to determine this. As far as I understand, it means that only one http request was sent to the server; I don't question your words, but I can't see how somebody can come up with an idea of using this as a fraud tool. Why stop only after one request when they can send severall requests and make it look good? I used to work for a company that ran a PPC affiliate program and I investigated a number of affiliate frauds. All of them used rather basic technics, but at least they all downloaded whole pages with graphics, styles, scripts and applets. Maybe if you show your logs to the PPC SEs in question you'll provide them with information they need to terminate some affiliates? I don't think these SEs are happy with those who give them a bad name.
(I would like to see those logs myself, too. For education ;) )